Working together to restore the biodiversity of rivers

Working together to restore the biodiversity of rivers

Ngā Awa river restoration programme and fish passage management

Our team member Tiki Garton is a woman of many talents – a valued colleague at P&F Global, a busy mum and a proud farmer. She has also been working alongside the Department of Conservation (DOC), the Whitebait Connection and Northland District Council (NRC) as part of the Ngā Awa river restoration programme for their farm, Garton Farms Kainamu, located in the Oruru Valley. Here DOC are working with iwi, hapū and communities to restore the biodiversity of the Awapoko, Oruru and Oruaiti Rivers and their tributaries in the Far North. There are 13 other river areas in New Zealand that are part of this programme.Regional

Inanga are a native fish species caught as whitebait. About 70% of our native fish are threatened or at-risk, including inanga, by habitat degradation, climate change and over-fishing. Inanga use the same spawning sites each year, so by identifying and protecting these places, we can increase the number of eggs, juveniles, and eventually adult fish. 

The Oruru River borders the Garton’s farm and where it runs alongside their farm happens to be considered a “Goldilocks” section of river for inanga spawning. With a saltwater wedge occurring, it makes the saltwater content vs the fresh water content “just right”.

Recently Tiki held a meeting on her farm with representatives from tangata whenua, community group Honeymoon Valley Landcare TrustThe Whitebait Connection, ecological research consultants, Northland Regional Counci and DOC Ngā Awa river restoration programme, as well as local farmers. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss options that are going to help with conservation efforts, but also not be detrimental to farming practices or impractical in general. The idea behind this approach is to get conservationists and farmers working together, discussing things openly to find what’s going to work for everyone to produce sustainable outcomes.

For example, discussing what tree varieties might be planted on the riverbank with farmers having their input of varieties to avoid as they have seen it not work in the past (e.g. willows!). Or the fact that the area floods, so what would work fencing wise and planting wise long term i.e. the type of fence, and the ongoing maintenance and repair work of fencing for the farmer since a large flood can tear a fence down.

The experts attending were particularly impressed with the quality of the resources produced by P&F Global around Fish Passage Management and making the regulations and solutions available easier for farmers, rural merchants, and contractors to understand. White papers like Simple Solutions for Good Fish Passage outlines the simple concepts you need to follow to design instream structures that comply with regulations and our Checklist for Consenting In-Stream Fish Passage will help you help you know if you need consent for your culvert in a river or stream and how to design in-stream structures that comply with fish passage regulations.

From source to coast, rivers run through many different landscapes including native vegetation, farming, horticulture, forestry and urban areas. All these activities and land uses affect a river and need to be considered in its restoration. Tiki and her family are leading by example by being actively involved in stream and catchment restoration on their land. So far DOC and Whitebait Connection along with NRC have been working with the Garton’s to fence the property off from the river’s edge. The next step is to plant the riverbank out with native plant life to help create an environment ideal for the inangas spawning process.

As DOC’s purpose says –

“Toitū te marae a Tāne-Mahuta, toitū te marae a Tangaroa, toitū te tangata.

If the land is well and the sea is well, the people will thrive.”

Recommended Resources