Plant­ing work to clean up the Manawatu¯ River


Re­cently a group of Massey Univer­sity stu­dents pas­sion­ate about im­prov­ing the wa­ter health of the Manawatu¯ River, un­der­took a ri­par­ian plant­ing day project.

The aim was to raise aware­ness at a com­mu­nity level that by work­ing to­gether, peo­ple can make a dif­fer­ence.

There are many fac­tors re­spon- sible for the poor con­di­tion of the river, but its health can be im­proved in a va­ri­ety of ways.

The plan of ac­tion was to carry out na­tive plant­ing in a ri­par­ian zone, which is the in­ter­face area be­tween the land and a river or stream.

Ri­par­ian veg­e­ta­tion has a num­ber of ben­e­fits to river health. It not only pro­vides a habi­tat for wildlife and aids in pre­vent­ing land ero­sion, but it or­gan­i­cally fil­ters out some of the nu­tri­ents be­fore they get to hit the wa­ter and cause ex­ces­sive bi­o­log­i­cal growth.

This growth is what lim­its the oxy­gen needed for aquatic life to thrive.

While mem­bers of the Manawatu¯ River Lead­ers’ Fo­rum signed an Ac­cord to take ac­tion to im­prove the state of the river, more lo­cal en­gage­ment is called for. The stu­dents were keen to col­lab­o­rate with mem­bers of the wider com­mu­nity as part of a pos­i­tive ap­proach to change.

En­vi­ron­ment Net­work Manawatu¯ put the stu­dents in touch with the New Zealand Land­care Trust and a lo­cal farmer who needed help to plant along a sec­tion of the Stoney Creek catch­ment.

On the day with the help of will­ing com­mu­nity mem­bers, ap­prox­i­mately 1500 plants were planted out.

The project was un­der­taken as part of Massey Univer­sity Bach­e­lor of Arts course ‘Tu¯ Tira Mai: Prac­tis­ing En­gage­ment’, with a fo­cus on civic en­gage­ment.

As well as con­tribut­ing to a great cause it was a day for en­joy­ing good weather and great hospi­tal­ity, and for mak­ing friends.

The re­al­ity is, that when mem­bers of a com­mu­nity get in­volved in a project and work to­gether, it is much eas­ier to make a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence to the en­vi­ron­ment they choose to live in.


Ge­orge Baker and Greer Ratana at Septem­ber’s plant­ing.

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