Love the Lyell community planting day

More than 650 native trees, flaxes and sedges were planted along Warrens Creek, during Love the Lyell’s annual community day in late October.

Paul Harnett’s Warrens Creek property was the focus for this year’s planting day, which saw more than 50 high school students and community members come together to plant the creek banks.

Land management and biodiversity advisor Heath Melville said the plants will eventually provide shade for the stream, which will improve the freshwater habitat for aquatic life, for both Warrens Creek and Lyell Creek/Waikōau, which Warrens flows into.

Students get a first-hand look at enhancing biodiversity

Kaikōura High School students across three different classes joined the efforts, supported by three of their teachers.

Melville said it was awesome to work with the High School and for the students to see how protecting and enhancing biodiversity and water quality in the district works first-hand.

"They are right in the catchment, with numerous opportunities for restoration actions in walking distance from the school. We’re looking forward to continuing to work with the school on other projects," Melville said.

Forest and Bird’s Barry Dunnett, and Te Hā o Mātauranga – Learning in Kaikōura’s Mani Columbus also brought their smiles and spades.

Fifteen additional community members got stuck in over the course of the day, including landowner Paul Harnett, and his daughter and land manager Biddy Getz.

Landowner's efforts praised

Harnett has been an advocate for protecting freshwater values alongside farm management for decades, so Melville is pleased to be able to work with both Harnett and Getz on this project and others.

"Biddy has invested a lot in improvements to the relationship between freshwater and pasture in recent years, with the restoration of Montegues Wetland being a prime example," Melville said.

"It’s a big chunk of the Lyell Creek/Waikōau catchment that she is managing, so we’re lucky to have her here, enthusiastic about increasing biodiversity values and water quality across her dad’s farm."

Diverse species provide habitat

Kānuka, kōwhai, mataī, tōtara, akiraho, and other native plant species were all used during the planting, to provide a diverse range of habitat for native insect and bird species.

Taller plants were placed on the north side of the stream to eventually provide shade for the stream and increase bank stability. Smaller plants were used on the south side of the stream to allow access for river protection works if needed.

Getz said that once she got her head around the project, it was something that she has wanted to see on the family farm for a while.

"Having grown up on a dairy farm and seeing stock numbers intensify over the years meant we had to learn how to balance conservation efforts with the viability of the farm," she said.

"Most of the farm streams were already fenced off but since the earthquake and recent high water tables, a practicable plan had to be developed that goes further to protect our land and water.

"Most fences along the streams have been realigned to increase the margin from the water and larger low lying wet areas have been fenced off. A couple of culverts have been installed to allow stock access to pasture."

Further information

The Warrens Creek and Lyell Creek/Waikōau catchment is a priority area for planting, as recommended in NIWA's Report for Lyell Creek/Waikōau catchment (PDF File, 4.03MB), which has been funded by the Kaikōura Plains Recovery Project.

Funding for the Warrens Creek planting was used from the Kaikōura Water Zone Committee's ‘on-the-ground actions for freshwater’ fund.

Local landowners and managers who are interested in assistance or resources for planting on their property can get in touch with our Kaikōura office by calling 03 319 5781.

Photo courtesy of Biddy Getz.