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Now that the ponds and plantings are closer to the track and road, many people are
commenting on how amazing the Tangatapu wetland restoration is looking.
Yet another very busy autumn preparation season was spent spraying kikuyu and digging a second set of ponds and channels in time for an early wetland planting day on Anzac weekend in late April. Little did we know that this would be such a special day. Les Feasey of Birds NZ was the first to discover pateke (brown teal ducks) on the Tangatapu Stream, at the
bridge. By evening, when the planters had gone, pateke were seen making their maiden voyage up the newly dug channels to the ponds. After 20 years pateke have finally returned, a great confirmation that the restoration recipe is right. Spotless crake and Australasian bittern are also regular visitors.
Early this year fish-expert Carol Nicholson reported some phenomenal results after surveying the same area of the Pukenui Stream (that runs through Tangatapu) two years on. In 2013 she recorded just four species and 40 odd fish. This time she caught over 170 fish, including 7 species: giant, common and crans bullies; shortfin and longfin eels; and good
numbers of inanga (Galaxias maculatus) and banded kokopu. She also caught one lonely fresh water crayfish, a lot of shrimps, and a dragonfly larva.
Another first is that Tangatapu has just been recognised as a spawning site for inanga, one of only four in the whole of Northland. When you sink your teeth into a whitebait pattie you are eating mostly inanga. Whereas historically inanga populations were reduced by drainage of wetlands and predation by introduced fish such as trout and gambusia, today loss of
spawning habitat is recognised as the main peril.
Nicki Wakefield of Whitebait Connection took her home-kindy group on a field trip to Tangatapu and netted a few inanga. Later, in April, she installed a straw bale in the stream at spring high tide mark to act as a secure nest for inanga eggs. Eggs were found after the next spring tide, but unfortunately, the bale was lost in a flood before confirmation of the
hatching of larvae the following spring tide. However, eggs laid on other riparian vegetation would have hatched, so the stream has returned to its role of making baby whitebait for the Bay of Islands.
With the 2014-15 planting season coming to a close, shortage of funds for the next year was creating a little stress for the Living Waters Tangatapu team. Then some wonderful news arrived. The EBoIPS funding application to Foundation North – spearheaded by Sandra Scowen – was successful, providing full funding for the 2015-16 season, including employment of a weed controller. This year the regular volunteers were worked to the max
due to low numbers on planting days and there being no Ngawha corrections people to help with weed control. Volunteers planted nearly 5000 natives this autumn/winter, and released from weeds most of the 13,000 natives planted over the previous three years. Look at the amazing growth in just over a year (below).
With at least two more years of planting to go, the more funding we can raise the more quickly we can get on to constructing the walkways.