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Onetangi Beach Dune Planting

Onetangi Beach Dune Restoration‎ is having a planting day on Sunday 2 June from 9:30am at 135 The Strand in Onetangi, Waiheke Island.

Cyclone Cook and foot traffic have hammered the dunes over the last 18 months and they desperately require extensive replanting. They would love some help.

This is a great excuse for a trip to Waiheke Island, especially if you haven’t made it there before. Make it a long weekend!

Contact them on 027 256 0581 or send a message via their Facebook page if you need more information.

Pingao & Toheroa Trophy for Pat La Roche

Pat La Roche was awarded this prestigious trophy to recognise her 30+ years of dedication and persistence in coastal restoration in Auckland’s West Coast environment with particular emphasis on her work in the controversial Piha coastal area. Unfortunately Pat couldn’t be at the conference to receive the trophy, but a celebratory ceremony was held on 4 May in her home town.

  • Pat has worked tirelessly to counter the effects of the natural and human induced degradation of the West Coast and, in particular, the Piha dune system over many years.
  • As a keen amateur environmentalist, Pat put a great deal of time and effort into studying the form and function of dune systems in the high energy west coast environment. With this knowledge and in consultation with other coastal experts, Pat led the planning of the plant restoration, beach accessways, and stream alignments following storm incidents.
  • This involved lengthy and difficult negotiations with local authorities and the opposition of some local groups that had little appreciation of coastal science processes and the means of managing them.
  • As a result of her enthusiasm, the Piha CoastCare Trust was formed to plan a co-ordinated approach to much needed restoration along the whole beach front. To ensure the success of the plans, Pat has successfully obtained local board funding for many thousands of dune plant seedlings, materials and contract services.
  • In addition Pat has, every year, personally carried out eco-sourced pingao and spinifex seed collection, arranged plant propagation and re-planting.
  • She has annually organised many volunteer working bees to carry out replanting and has received enthusiastic support from many locals in restoring the various degraded dune systems, stream banks and wetlands.
  • Pat was involved in obtaining and supervising contracts from the local authority to provide summer rangers at Piha to protect the environment from the depredations of dune plant trampling by ever-increasing numbers of tourists and the problems of dogs pursuing and damaging local bird life, including little blue penguins.
  • In her efforts to inform and educate visitors and local people, Pat has been instrumental in helping design and have installed suitable beach care signage to protect the environment.
  • Away from dunes, Pat has been deeply involved in the restoration of the environment around the Piha Stream and has co-ordinated local people and groups to participate in weed control and riparian planting. Her ability to work closely with Auckland Council Rangers to obtain the best results is one of the marks of her ability to involve groups and individuals.
  • To keep abreast of the latest scientific information on all coastal restoration issues, Pat has regularly attended and reported to many Coastal Restoration Trust Conferences and was a major participant in the planning and executing of the Coastal Restoration Trust Annual Conference in Piha in 2012. She has been responsible for passing on the latest information to local residents and authorities to encourage them to adopt best practices in coastal work.
  • She has also led Piha CoastCare in vetting local authority decisions in relation to Piha’s and the West Coast’s environment and has made numerous written submissions to help the authorities come to better decisions, including the development of the Auckland Plan when the local councils were amalgamated.
  • An important feature of her work is the fact that she has tirelessly persisted in advancing best environmental practice, often in the face of uninformed opposition and sometimes vitriolic accusations that have taken their toll physically and emotionally.

In summary, Pat has, over 30+ years, made an exceptional contribution to the coastal environment on Auckland’s West Coast and her energy, enthusiasm and integrity in identifying issues, advocating for best practice at all times and her organisational ability in carrying out projects on the dunes marks her as a person of very high calibre indeed.

Information provided by Ross Duder, who nominated Pat and who spoke about her work at the conference dinner.

Cooks Beachcare takes home the CRT Restoration Award

We congratulate Cooks Beachcare on being awarded our Restoration Award this year. This award is kindly sponsored by Coastlands Plant Nursery. It was reported in a newspaper article in the Mercury Bay Informer.

Here is some detail of what the group has been up to since its inception:

Around 2010 a group of local residents of Cooks Beach became concerned with the state of the dunes along the foreshore of the beach. Noxious plants, garden “escapees” or dumped rubbish had become rampant and were threatening the health of the dunes and their native plants.

Cooks Beach is about 2kms long and the initial focus of the group has been on the 1km of the dunes which lie between a local road and the beach.

So it began that on Thursday mornings a group of volunteers, whose numbers range from 1 to 12 and who have a fair sprinkling of grey hair, would meet and spend around 2 hours working on the dunes. We work from February to December, weather depending. However, our records show that from 2010 to 2015 we averaged around 600 hours per calendar year and from 2015 to the end of 2018 as our numbers grew the average hours increased to 1000 per calendar year. This equates over our “active” period to a contribution of some 7000 hours. At a charge rate of say $30 /hour the value of the contribution is given perspective.

The initial target was blue pea (Polygala fruticosa) which was of such a size that chain saws were necessary. Each year the group has worked the length of the 1km strip to the point where there are fewer and fewer blue pea plants each year with no plants now maturing to the flowering stage.

Of equal concern was agapanthus which was flourishing. In 2016 we obtained a grant from the DOC Community Fund for a three-year spraying programme which has reduced the masses of plants to a number which, after this year’s spraying, we will be able to maintain or eliminate by hand.

A DOC Community Day in 2017 saw 18 volunteers attacking ice plant, another wide-spread pest. From a strip about 30m wide and 60m deep plants were removed and when weighed at the Council dump totalled over ½ tonne. It quickly became apparent that this plant could not be practically removed by hand and our Council, recognising the problem, has made sufficient funds available for a two-year spraying programme which should see the ice plant eliminated or reduced to small patches which can be controlled by hand.

By hand weeding and spraying we have also attacked cotoneaster, ivy, agave, blackberry and gazania which were all present in significant amounts.

The positive aspect of our work has been successive annual planting programmes for which plants, mainly spinifex, pingao, club rush and muehlenbeckia have been supplied by Waikato Regional Council and Thames Coromandel District Council. Community planting days have been held and the public, school groups, students from a local foreign language school and “Keas” have joined our volunteers in planting in over 4,000 plants in each of the last three years.

As added activities of the group we have developed and presented a beach care and plant identification programme for a local primary school. In the nesting season members of the group are active in protecting the nests and young of dotterels and oyster catchers which are both present on our beach.

A recent highlight for us has been the disclosure that our beach is one of the largest and last locations on the Coromandel Peninsula for sand daphne or Pimelea villosa with natural patches now being supplemented by new plants. We are very proud guardians of this diminishing native plant.

We have not been as good at the before-and-after photos as we should have been but as we gather each week and find fewer and fewer pest plants and can see the growth of the planted areas there is a pride and satisfaction in what we are achieving.

We have been fortunate to have had Jim Dahm as our consultant and adviser and our relationship with and support from WRC, TCDC and DOC has allowed a good successful working partnership to develop and flourish.

The group maintains a website at cooksbeachcare.org.nz which shows our activities. Go to “Our work” and click on “ more information” on any of the activity panels to bring up the supporting photographs.