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Waipoua awa restoration

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During this field trip we will explore the Waipoua awa and catchment to see how it is being restored.

The Waipoua awa in Te Tai Tokerau has been treasured by Te Roroa iwi for generations. Image: Te Toa Whenua.

A taonga for Te Roroa iwi

Treasured by Te Roroa iwi for generations, the Waipoua awa in Te Tai Tokerau Northland runs through the ancient Waipoua kauri forest that is home to Tāne Mahuta. The awa is 17 kilometres long and flows generally west from its sources in the Parataiko Range to reach the Tasman Sea/Te Tai-o-Rēhua 15 kilometres southeast of the mouth of the Hokianga Harbour.

The Waipoua awa is one of 14 priority catchments in the nationwide Ngā Awa river restoration programme. The goal for the Waipoua awa restoration project is to restore the awa and its biodiversity and add to the restoration work that is already being carried out in the catchment.

The Waipoua River runs through Waipoua Forest and has a small area of farmed land in the headwaters and 950 ha of regenerating forest, food-producing land, and pine forest near the coast. Image: Te Papa Atawhai | Department of Conservation.

A rich cultural and natural history

For Te Roroa, the river has always been a source of water and food, as well as a place to cool off in the summer. Land beside the river was terraced and gardened for centuries, along with the fertile river flats. It has been a place of enjoyment and sustenance, and a home for taonga species throughout the whole catchment.

The Waipoua awa has a rich cultural and natural history: Image: Te Toa Whenua.

Current restoration work

From its inland source to the coast, the Waipoua awa runs through many different landscapes. Some activities and land use within the catchment impact the awa and stop it from functioning like it used to. Restoration work aims to reverse these impacts.

Restoration work so far:

  • helping farmers in the headwaters fence off some of the smaller streams
  • water quality monitoring
  • modifying a ford to let fish through
  • studying river sediment and erosion processes
  • replanting with native plants
  • weed management.

Some of the restoration mahi includes getting rid of weeds and replanting with native plants. Image: Te Toa Whenua.

Team approach to land and river restoration

Much of this restoration project aligns with Te Toa Whenua – a Te Roroa iwi-initiated project. This kaupapa aims to enable Te Roroa descendants to practice kaitiakitanga over their land, restore biodiversity in the Waipoua River catchment and support sustainable land use for mana whenua.

Some of the mahi includes:

  • development of a native tree nursery
  • reforestation
  • pest animal control
  • weed control
  • creation of a food forest.

Pest animal control has been a key focus for Te Toa Whenua. Image: Te Toa Whenua.

Try the Waipoua awa restoration quiz.

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