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About 30 keen planters put in 4000 native plants along a two kilometre strip of the Ruamahanga Cut-off on Mike McCreary’s farm in South Wairarapa yesterday.
Mr McCreary and neighbour Ed Handysides have gone into partnership with Greater Wellington Regional Council and the Department of Conservation to fence and plant their land that adjoins the Ruamahanga Cut-off.
Fencing keeps stock out of the waterway and the native plants will help filter out nutrients and effluent that might otherwise run-off the surrounding farmland. The costs of doing this are split between the partners.
Greater Wellington land management officer Tony Faulkner says yesterday’s planting is part of the Wairarapa Moana Wetlands project to enhance Lake Wairarapa, Lake Onoke and their adjoining wetlands.
“The cut-off is an important area for wildlife and the plantings will provide better habitat for a range of birds, and shade for fish. It’s a real pleasure working with landowners who are doing their best to look after the environment.”
Volunteers from around Wairarapa joined the farmers and staff from Greater Wellington, Department of Conservation to plant flax, toe toe, cabbage trees, manuka and other riverside species.
Silverfern Farms laid on steak sandwiches for hungry planters at lunchtime.
Last year a similar crew planted 1.6 kilometres of the cut-off at Ed Handysides farm.
Why is it called the cut-off?
This seven kilometre former stretch of the Ruamahanga River was “cut-off” from the river by a drainage scheme in the 1970s and now is essentially a backwater of Lake Wairarapa.
The Ruamahanga River used to flow into Lake Wairarapa and then drain through a narrow channel down to Lake Onoke and out to sea.
This meandering route was slow and caused floodwaters to back up and cover large areas of the South Wairarapa Valley.
In the 1960s a diversion was started to push the Ruamahanga River directly into Lake Onoke and get floodwaters out to sea more quickly.
The diversion and complementary drainage work has allowed more than 30,000ha of land south of Martinborough to be farmed more intensively.