In brief: Restoring river islands

A joint NIWA and Waikato-Tainui project to restore the Waikato River's Maurea Islands is under way, with the recent completion of an illustrated identification guide of species inhabiting the islands and a restoration plan.

Funded by the Waikato River Authority, the project will see pest plants on western Maurea Island controlled using little or no herbicide, with native plants then used to outcompete selected pest plants. Herbicides will be used to control pest plants on the slightly smaller eastern Maurea Island, funded by Waikato Catchment Ecological Enhancement Trust, and then replanted
with native plants.

Kerry Bodmin and Paul Champion from NIWA have worked in partnership with Cheri van Shravendijk-Goodman (Waikato Raupatu River Trust (WRRT)) and whānau from Maurea Marae to establish what plant and animal life are culturally and ecologically significant for the islands. Trips to the islands from April to September 2013 enabled the NIWA-WRRT team, working alongside  Landcare Research and the Department of Conservation, to generate the species list. 

Bodmin says that results from plant surveys undertaken on the islands found that they were largely covered with invasive pest plants, such as yellow flag iris, alder and reed sweet grass.

"The guide will be very beneficial in moving this and other Waikato River restoration projects forward. People with little plant knowledge can use the pictorial guide to identify existing plants. It's then easier to correctly recognise pest plants that require
control and manage the native plant life we wish to see flourish.

"Our restoration programme on western Maurea Island has another initiative using selected native plants, such as harakeke  (flax), to outcompete targeted pest plants, like yellow flag iris," says Bodmin.

She has been working on the restoration project for a year now, and thoroughly enjoys the challenge. "I've really enjoyed  working with a diverse group of people. They have brought different viewpoints, values and opinions which have been  incorporated into the restoration project." 

P1020273 - Aleki Taumoepeau (NIWA), Jonathan Brown (Maurea Marae), Dr Bev Clarkson (Landcare Research), Cheri van Schravendijk-Goodman (Waikato Raupatu River Trust) identifying turf plants. [Paul Champion]