BY JULIA WADE
Many young hands have made light work of an ongoing problem with a group of schoolchildren braving the mud and winter weather to support the health and free-flowing waters of their local harbour.
Mangawhai Beach School (MBS) intermediate students completed their annual mangrove management project on July 1 by removing juvenile plants from ‘their beach’, the coastal side of Insley Street causeway.
Overseen by Mangawhai Harbour Restoration Society (MHRS) trustees John Phillis and Ken Rayward, and with MBS principal Aaron Kemp leading the charge, enthusiastic pupils filled 20 large rubbish bags in one afternoon with the hardy young seedlings.
Although the value of the controversial plant is constantly under debate with some environmental groups and scientists believing the plants act as an essential eco-system for a range of marine life and coastal birds, mangroves are prolific spreaders due to the plant’s ability to easily embed in and eventually overtake harbours, sandy estuarine shorelines and wildlife habitats.
MHRS spokesperson Ken Rayward says it is great that the school and students have taken ownership of ‘their patch’.
“The school has been part of maintaining the harbour as an environmental project for several years,” he says. “We estimate over 6000 sprouting juvenile mangroves have been removed under the resource consent provided, giving the opportunity for the harbour to return to its previous beauty with a sandy beach which the early Mangawhai school pupils and staff enjoyed, before its mangrove suffocation.”
Mangawhai Harbour Restoration Society is starting their annual sand dune erosion protection planting program. Want to help with the planting? Contact Ken at 027 442 5408.
MHRS trustee John Phillis with a group of enthusiastic helpers earlier in the project. “The horn honking support signalled by passing cars and trucks was truly fantastic,” he says. PHOTO/JULIA WADE