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Big step in Maketu estuary plan

Posted at 3:17pm Sunday 11 Jun, 2017


Supplied image.

Natural tidal flows between the Papahikahawai lagoon and Maketu estuary were restored this week, allowing natural tidal flows for the first time in 54 years.

Two causeways across Papahikahawai Channel were removed this week and a wooden bridge has been built to provide pedestrian and maintenance vehicles.

The wooden bridge provides alternative pedestrian and maintenance vehicle access between Papahikahawai Island and Maketu Spit.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council is working in partnership with Maori landowners (Papahikahawai No.1 and No.2 Trusts) to reduce nutrient run-off into Te Awa o Ngatoroirangi/Maketu Estuary by retiring Papahikahawai Island from grazing. The island is being replanted and its shoreline re-contoured, to create a safe-haven and breeding grounds for native birds and fish.

This work included removing two causeways constructed in 1963. The causeways prevented natural tidal flushing of the Papahikahawai Lagoon, resulting in excess algae growth and reduced fish life. Water quality and fish life is expected to improve with the causeways removed.

The Papahikahawai Island work is also a preparatory step towards a major project being led by Bay of Plenty Regional Council, to re-divert twenty percent of the Kaituna River's freshwater flow back into Te Awa o Ngatoroirangi/Maketu Estuary and create 20 hectares of new wetlands. The project aims to restore the health and mauri of the estuary, which has been degraded since the Kaituna River was diverted away from it in 1956. Re-diversion work is scheduled to start this spring. See further details here.

The proposed re-diversion is expected to take place in 2018 and will maximise the flow into the Ongatoro/Maketu estuary while keeping Te Tumu cut open for flood protection and boating access.

The re-diversion will significantly change the existing landscape, particularly to low-lying land north of Ford's Cut. It will also re-create at least 20 hectares of wetland habitat, partially restoring the landscape to what it looked like before 1956.

Main re-diversion construction works are scheduled to start in spring 2017, subject to co-funding and contract negotiations. In the meantime, complimentary work on Papahikahawai Island started in March 2017.

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