Whaingaroa Harbour Care

Whaingaroa Harbour Care

Whaingaroa Harbour Care

In 1995, every time it rained, the Whaingaroa (Raglan) Harbour would turn brown with sediment and stay that way for weeks. That year, a Ministry of Fisheries’ survey determined it took recreational fishers 18 hours to catch a single fish in the harbour. Seagrass beds were non-existent and whitebait catches were low. It was a picture of an ecosystem in decline.

At a community meeting, local residents discussed the problem of effluent making its way into the harbour, noting that faecal bacteria readings were as high as 80,000+ in some places. It became apparent that run-off from farmland and stock accessing the waterways were the major drivers of the decline in water quality.

The community responded by setting up Whaingaroa Harbour Care, to assist local farmers with planting around streams, harbour edges and wetlands.

The organisation established a native plant nursery and began growing and planting eco-sourced native trees. It then created a showcase site at the Wainui Reserve, where approximately one third of this farm park was retired from stock, and all streams, wetlands and steep areas were fenced and planted. The farm managers found they were able to reduce their costs while doubling their stocking rates. This new farming model attracted the attention of local farmers, and 22 years later over 60 landowners are on board, with 450km of riparian areas now fenced and planted.

The impact has been immense. It is now possible to catch the recreational fishing limit of snapper within one hour in the harbour, while whitebait catches have increased and seagrass beds in the harbour now exceed 10 hectares.

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