Win­ning the Tarawera war on wat­tle


Bay of Plenty Re­gional Coun­cil, De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion and Ahu Whenua Trusts Ruawa¯hia 2B, Ro­tom­a­hana Parekarangi 6Q2B and Te Ariki have joined forces again this year to con­trol sil­ver wat­tle in Tarawera.

The Tarawera Wat­tle Con­trol Project is in its third year of op­er­a­tion with a fo­cus on the heav­ily in­fested area be­tween lakes Tarawera and Ro­tom­a­hana.

Re­gional Coun­cil land man­age­ment of­fi­cer Scott Kus­abs said con­trol­ling the wat­tles achieves ben­e­fits for both the nat­u­ral bio­di­ver­sity of the catch­ment area and wa­ter qual­ity of the lakes.

‘‘Sil­ver wat­tle has man­aged to al­ter the nat­u­ral veg­e­ta­tion of Te Ariki, the area be­tween Hot Wa­ter Beach and Mount Tarawera and there was real po­ten­tial to spread fur­ther if we had not in­ter­vened when the project be­gan,’’ Kus­abs said.

‘‘As a legume, it has the abil­ity to fix at­mo­spheric ni­tro­gen into the soil which is then leached through the ground­wa­ter and into Lakes Tarawera and Ro­tom­a­hana.’’

Te Ariki Trust Chair Ken Rau­reti said the same crew that has un­der­taken the ground­work over the last three winters have man­aged to con­trol wat­tles over 250 hectares of land.

‘‘They have cov­ered some chal­leng­ing ter­rain through the harsh win­ter months in or­der to carry out stem in­jec­tion of her­bi­cide to kill the wat­tles and fell them in a safe man­ner that does not dis­turb the sur­round­ing nat­u­ral veg­e­ta­tion.’’

Rau­reti said the crew is pre­dom­i­nantly made up of peo­ple who whaka­papa to Nga¯ti Ran­gi­tihi, Tuhourangi, and the whenua (land).

‘‘This project is a blue-print ex­am­ple of Iwi con­nec­tion, whaka­papa and kaiti­ak­i­tanga in ac­tion.’’

The plan in the fu­ture is to con- trol seedlings and re­growth in ar­eas al­ready con­trolled as well as tak­ing out the re­main­ing thick stands of ma­ture wat­tle trees and pines. The Tarawera Wat­tle Con­trol Project to­gether with the Mt Tarawera Wild­ing Conifer Project is restor­ing the Mount Tarawera slopes and sur­round­ing for­est ar­eas to a more nat­u­ral state al­low­ing one of New Zealand’s youngest land­scapes to re­gen­er­ate at its own pace.

‘‘Re­vi­tal­is­ing the Tarawera catch­ment area is pos­si­ble be­cause of the var­i­ous groups and ex­perts who have sup­ported the project,’’ said Rau­reti.

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