Recre­at­ing the swamp at Nor­ton Park


‘‘Giv­ing na­ture a nudge’’ John McCartin

Palmer­ston North’s Nor­ton Park is be­ing trans­formed into the the sort of wet­land swamp seen in the city’s early days.

The demon­stra­tion is be­ing led by city coun­cil stormwa­ter as­set en­gi­neer John McCartin, who has a par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est in ‘‘giv­ing na­ture a nudge’’ rather than just pip­ing rain­wa­ter and run-off away to streams and rivers as quickly as pos­si­ble.

Stage one of the project, at the re­serve at the top end of Feather­ston St op­po­site the new Kauri Health Cen­tre and his­toric Hoff­man Kiln, started over sum­mer.

It in­cluded earth­works to shape the drain into ponds, lay­ing a ‘‘clay blan­ket’’ as the wet­land’s base, and place­ment of rocks.

The work con­tin­ued into win­ter with the plant­ing of some 10,000 reeds and plants.

The wet­land was built around ‘‘an in­ter­mit­tent stream’’.

It used to be fed from the Mil­son area, but most of the wa­ter was di­verted to the Napier Rd drain as houses were built in the area dur­ing the 1950s.

McCartin said the de­vel­op­ing wet­land was fenced off for safety while the plants be­came es­tab­lished.

Once they were grow­ing well, the plants would help ex­tract pol­lu­tants and im­prove wa­ter qual­ity.

The wet­land would be in­te­grated into the rest of the park, in­clud­ing con­struc­tion of a high flow by­pass to di­vert some run off if wa­ter flows were more than the wet­land could han­dle.

‘‘Down the track it will look like it has been there for­ever. It will look nat­u­ral, and be an at­trac­tive amenity.’’

McCartin said there would be sig­nage around the wet­land to ex­plain the con­cept.

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