Conservation Volunteers at Atiu Creek Regional Park in the Kaipara Harbour

Coastal Restoration At Atiu Creek Regional Park

CVNZ Volunteers in Atiu Creek Regional Park, Kaipara Harbour

CVNZ Volunteers in Atiu Creek Regional Park, Kaipara Harbour

Conservation Volunteers New Zealand (CVNZ), working with Auckland Council and Te Uri o Hau, have begun work on our exciting new environmental restoration project at Ātiu Creek Regional Park in the Kaipara Harbour.

The new project, named RACE (Restoring Ātiu Creek Ecology) to action, is helping to achieve the vision of Ko te hau o te tangata, ko te hau te whenua – The vitality of the people, the essence of the land.

Located 90 minutes north of central Auckland, With only 23,000 visitors in 2014, the park remains an under-utilized resource for Aucklanders and visitors.

History

Ātiu Creek has a long history of human occupation extending back centuries and this is reflected in the numerous archaeological sites found in the park. These include several large pā (fortifications), the strategically important Opou walking and canoe portage between the north and south Kaipara. Other archaeological sites including terraces, gardening areas, food storage pits, and midden sites are found throughout the property.

The entire Taporapora peninsula was eventually purchased by Swiss citizen Pierre Chatelanat in 1951 who then sold the majority of the land to the government for development as returned soldiers’ farms but retained the portion now known as Ātiu Creek Farm. There he carried out an extensive programme of land clearing, fencing, roading, tree planting and construction to create a model farm.

Sheep at Atiu Creek Regional Farm, Kaipara Harbour

Sheep at Atiu Creek Regional Farm, Kaipara Harbour

Recognising the value of Ātiu Creek’s natural and cultural heritage and wishing to ensure public access to the special property, Pierre and Jackie Chatelanat gifted the land to the people of New Zealand by in 2006. Ātiu Creek Regional Park was officially opened in 2008 and has been managed since then by Auckland Council (Northern Regional Parks).

Ecology

Ātiu Creek Regional Park lies on the eastern edge of the Kaipara Harbour, New Zealand’s largest estuary and the second largest harbour in the world. The harbour contains ecologically significant sand dune, sea grass, freshwater and estuarine ecosystems and the surrounding catchment area covers 640,000 hectares across the Auckland and Northland regions.

The park itself is a patchwork of rolling pastures, exotic tree plantations, and majestic stands of rare and ancient native forest, wetlands and estuarine mangroves. More than a third of the park is covered by mature and regenerating native forest with large, old kauri, puriri and pohutukawa found on the ridges and coastal reaches.

Our work at Ātiu Creek

Thanks to a generous grant from Foundation North (previously ASB Community Trust), we have been able to expand our previously part-time work to a full-time, more focused programme that will make Ātiu Creek Regional Park our Flagship Project in the North. This will enable Kiwis and international visitors to get involved in restoring this stunning coastal park that is right on the door step of the city.

This grant has also allowed us to:

  • have a full-time volunteer presence in the park with teams undertaking new tasks every week.
  • open our new plant nursery, raising native plants from seeds collected from within the park to supply our revegetation efforts. When fully operational, the nursery will house 20,000 seedlings and help launch us towards our long-term goal of planting two million native trees in the park.
  • work with other partners across the Kaipara Region, particularly environmental groups and farm owners wishing to restore their reclaimed land back to native bush and improve water quality and biodiversity across the region.
First Day of work in Atiu Creek nursery

First Day of work in Atiu Creek nursery

A whole host of other special events at Ātiu Creek will also help to raise the profile of this underutilised gem just 90 minutes north of central Auckland and encourage a sense of stewardship in the local community. In June 2015, Ātiu Creek was the site of CVNZ’s Corporate Tree Planting Challenge for World Environment Day. Several corporate teams took part and planted 600 trees and shrubs in just under two hours. The day was a massive success despite the almost relentless rain. Along with another smaller grant from the Rodney Environmental Education Fund, it will also help to raise the project’s profile by funding new advertising to recruit local volunteers and create project days for local schools

We have already made great progress towards restoring this beautiful park but a lot more needs to be done as the environmental health of the Kaipara is in serious decline. We need your support to make this project a success and restore this beautiful region.

CVNZ, Auckland Council and Te Uri o Hau hope for big things at this site and encourage the local community to come visit and get involved.

Are you a local marae group or land owner? Get in touch with us to see how we can work together on the restoration of your site. To get involved or to find out more about upcoming volunteering opportunities call 0800 56 76 86 or email info@conservationvolunteers.co.nz.