Overview of project 

Ngāti Kea Ngāti Tuara are a hapū of Te Arawa and hold manawhenua over the area of Tarewa Pounamu, of which the Utuhina stream runs alongside it and therefore holds a special place for our hapū.  The Utuhina stream is made up of several tributaries with the main source being Karamu Takina, which was gifted by our Rangatira Raharuhi Pururu to the Rotorua Lakes Council back in the 1950’s and is now Rotorua’s main water source. 

The Utuhina stream flows from the western side of Tihiotonga through the western suburbs and into Lake Rotorua. This stream has stormwater drains flowing into it and has been problematic with flooding, erosion, sedimentation, and the riparian areas along Tarewa Pounamu are being overrun with pest plants. 

Ngāti Kea Ngāti Tuara have an aspiration to restore the mauri of the Utuhina stream that runs alongside Tarewa Road, known as Tarewa Pounamu, by clearing the weeds and planting native trees and grasses on the stream bank. 

It was the aspiration of this project that planting this area will help stabilise the banks and prevent sediment loss from erosion, which will aid in phosphorus losses as phosphorus sticks to sediment. There are many catchment programs that are targeting phosphorus and nitrogen loss from land to water as nitrogen and phosphorus are key nutrients that produce algal blooms in Lake Rotorua. 

We had to work very closely with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (BOPRC) to clear and plant this waterway as it was in a known flood protection zone and so in negotiation with the Council we were only allowed to clear and plant the western side of the stream. This work went well though and with the assistance of Te Arawa Lakes Trust Hunga Tiaki Team and Euan Campbell (who owns the neighbouring block alongside the planned planting area) a blank canvas was created for planting. BOPRC also mulched a number of eucalyptus trees (that had been felled during the clearing) and this mulch was laid down and spread out over the area before planting began to assist with the suppression of weeds. 

Our trees were sourced from our own native tree nursery and a community planting day was held over the winter period. Rotorua Boys High School also attended and with their help we were able to get nearly all of the plants planted in one day. The planting concentrated on a lot of carex grass species to assist with stabilising the bank during flooding periods.  We are currently undertaking hand releasing and spray releasing around the plants which will be  done over the next year. In the future we hope to plant more areas of the Utuhina to assist stabilising the banks and reduce sedimentation of our stream. 

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Kea Ngāti Tuara has received funding from the Wai Ora Fund and the Environmental Enhancement Fund (BOPRC) to clear and plant natives along the Utuhina stream.