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Saving Lake Waikare

26 October 2017

Swimming water

Scientists, iwi, students, farmers and community volunteers are joining together to plant 30,000 more native trees around the shores of Lake Waikare from 28 to 31 October 2017 to help restore the lake to its former health. This is the second planting to happen around the lake this year.

Glen Tupuhi, Chairperson at Ngā Muka Development Trust, said the degradation of Lake Waikare, which is located near Te Kauwhata, 40 kilometres north of Hamilton, has been happening for over fifty years. “Now it is time to work together to bring our lake back to its former health”. 

He welcomes any volunteer who wishes to help with this project to gather at 9.00 am on each or any of the days of 28 - 31 October 2017, at Matahuru Marae for the planting programme preparation in the margins of Lake Waikare.

Lake Waikare is a riverine lake, the largest of several shallow lakes in the upper floodplain of the Waikato River in New Zealand's North Island.  It was a source of sustenance for the whānau mai Te Riu tae atuki Te Puaha o Waikato. In recent years the health and wellbeing of the lake has been degraded by high inputs of nutrients, sediments and bacteria. 

Enter the Centre for Integrated Biowaste Research (CIBR) led by crown research institute, ESR. Their scientists are leading the research into how a mānuka-dominated eco-system can improve water quality and provide an economic return in the Lake Waikare catchment.

ESR scientist, Dr Maria Gutierrez Gines said previous research by ESR and Lincoln University showed that mānuka (Leptospermun scoparium) root systems can reduce pathogens and nitrate leaching from biowaste-amended soils in laboratory, greenhouse and lysimeter experiments.  This project will show how it works in real-world field conditions.   

“We will be looking at mānuka‘s potential to reduce nutrients, sediments and pathogens from entering waterways on or near dairy farms.  These have been the factors identified as the main causes of pollution in New Zealand waterways.

“We are setting up two experimental plots with 40,000 plants of 22 different species, 50% of which will be mānuka. We will measure run-off from the farms, and soil indicators to compare the difference between run off from sections planted with only mānuka (monoculture), or mixed planting that is mānuka-dominated, to sections that are just pasture.

“We will be looking for improvement in the quality of water from farmland reaching the lake coming through the sections where the run off has passed through the planted areas,” she said.

This five year project is funded by Waikato River Authority, Waikato Regional Council and CIBR, CIBR is collaborating closely with Waikato Regional Council, Waikato District Council, Nga Muka Ltd, Te Riu o Waikato Ltd, Matahuru Marae/Nikau Estate Trust, and Ecoquest.