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Wairoa Stream Projects: 'Springing into weed control mode'

Those of you who regularly walk the Wairoa Stream will be aware of the improvements to the track since it was opened in April 2017. In addition to the activity on the track, more than 13,000 native trees and shrubs have been planted in a number of areas running along the length of that track.

Those plantings require a considerable amount of TLC, especially at this time of of the year when rampant spring growth can overwhelm more recent plantings, especially those areas of grass and weeds still receiving plenty of sunlight. Grass growth is not inhibited by the developing native trees until these form a canopy which eventually deprives the grasses of sunlight necessary for growth. That 'canopy stage' is not reached until at least six years after planting, assuming that the young plants have enjoyed good growing conditions. We also have a problem with vines in Kerikeri, mostly species that have 'escaped' from gardens but these have become a major challenge to native trees, especially if they are allowed to run unchecked in the bush.

Grass and weeds threaten to overwhelm plants (above) unless we strim(below).

During spring, the Friends of Wairoa Stream volunteers struggle to keep this spring growth in check. We have a number of weapons in our weed control armoury ranging from the hand clearing of vines, mowing of some areas where growth is now slower due to the developing canopy, using strimmers (weedeaters) on the larger areas of weeds and grass and, spraying the more invasive weeds and larger infestations of vines

Depending upon the weather conditions, growth will either continue (if we have a wet summer) or, as in recent years, the onset of dry conditions can result in us switching from weeding to watering those newest plantings to ensure that they survive their first year.

The objective of the planting is to provide a contiguous wildlife corridor along the stream bank. In order to develop both flora and fauna, we have now included some focus on predator control to help the latter. Over the last few weeks we have started this process with the installation of 20 rat traps along sections of established bush or well developed plantings, between Alderton Park and the Te Wairere waterfall (see image of a trap below).

As an aside, a more recent and frustrating part of the project has been track signage. There is an element in our community who seem to think that signage is a game. Something that we build so that they can rip it down. We would rather be spending our precious donations and grants on developing the corridor, not replacing vandalised signage. If you happen across an of these morons please point out that they should not use the track if they have an aversion to signs. We hope to soon add information boards related to plant species but are reluctant if these are additional 'red rags' to our 'signage bulls'.

One of several signs that we have had to replace recently.

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