Mānuka to help clean up local waterways

Mānuka to help clean up local waterways

26 July 2019

One family in Rotorua is doing its part to help clean up local waterways, by removing gorse and planting 120,000 natives in its place.

A 150-hectare property by Lake Ōkāreka was faced with an abundant gorse problem after the passing of Taiaroa Royal's father and eldest brother, who had previously run the farm.

Mature gorse leaches nitrogen into the soil and then into waterways which results in environmental problems such as algae blooms, lake weed growth and ultimately poor water quality.

The gorse on the property will be removed and 120,000 mānuka and other natives will be planted in its place to help address the problem and it will also provide an income for the family.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council reached out to the Royal whānau and Mānuka Farming New Zealand to work together in the design and funding of an appropriate planting programme incorporating mānuka and other natives. 

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Land Management Officer Aydin Maxfield said intense weed control had started on the property and when complete will include aerial spraying, hand spraying and roller crushing of the gorse.

“Gorse is a stubborn weed, and on this property offers no land productivity or environmental benefits. It’s very hard to eradicate, hence the intense removal methods.

“Gorse leaches a huge amount of nitrogen into our soil, which eventually makes its way into local waterways, which for this property means leaching into Lake Rotorua and Lake Ōkāreka.”

Mānuka Farming New Zealand CEO Stephen Lee said the design of the mānuka plantation, which includes other native species, would provide the owners with an income source from honey and potential carbon removal in future years.

“The way we have worked with the Regional Council and the Royals provides a working and governance model for similar opportunities elsewhere in the country."

Mr Lee said there were converging factors making it important that organisations work together effectively for the future of the environment.

“Long-standing environmental pressures have come to a head, and there is recognition by both the Government and the public that things have to change.

“This, together with the increase in government funding for trees and anticipated changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme, means that there is no better time for landowners to look at different options for land-use changes.

"Landowners are in a great position to address environmental and commercial challenges, by accessing and optimising the different government grants and returns available from carbon credits, mānuka honey, and even mānuka oil,” he said.

Landowner Taaroa Royal said the joint work was  a winning solution for everyone involved.

"The main win is for the health of our land and therefore the health of our lakes," he said.