Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger Bypass project plants a legacy


A stretch of north Taranaki streambank is being given a new lease of life by Te Ara o Te Ata – Mt Messenger Bypass.

The project’s riparian or riverside planting programme has just seen 16,635 plants going into a 3.75 hectare area alongside the Mimi River.

Riparian planting helps prevent erosion, filters sediment and nutrients and improves the habitat for native water dwellers by providing shade to keep the water cool in summer. Many of our native freshwater fish species prefer cool water conditions that are typically found under a bush or forest canopy.

The riparian zone just south of Mt Messenger extends 10 metres either side of the waterway and is fenced to keep stock out.

Mt Messenger Alliance lead ecologist Roger MacGibbon says years of planning have gone into the project’s mitigation, restoration and riparian planting programmes and it’s great to see boots on the ground.

He says they’ve tried to keep a local focus, cultivating seeds from the area and employing local contractors including a team from Tāmoremorenui, an affiliate and project partner to Ngāti Tama.

Mr MacGibbon says along with the iwi, nearby landowners have been crucial to developing the programme and the project team is appreciative of their support, and commitment to care for the plantings into the future.

“In years to come, people driving past will be able to enjoy the trees and shrubs, while the wildlife in the stream will be much better off with more shade and better water quality,” says Mr MacGibbon.

“As the project progresses, more than 289,000 natives will ultimately be planted, across 46 hectares and nearly 90,000 of those natives are destined to go into riparian offset planting across 17 hectares.”

Planting will also cover six hectares of kahikatea swamp forest, 9 hectares of dryland bush, and 15 hectares of roadside margins and fill slopes.

“Sedges and rushes will thrive in open wetlands, while hardy shrubs, small trees, and towering canopy species will flourish in dryland bush and wetland margins.,” says Mr MacGibbon.

The mitigation and restoration programme is part of a comprehensive environmental strategy which includes pest management and aims to leave the wider project area in much better condition for future generations.