At 63 kilometres long and with a catchment of 4,100 hectares, the Papakura Stream is a significant freshwater system. Reaching from Brookby in East Auckland to the Manukau Harbour in the West, the stream has seen a lot of change over the years. This area was once covered in indigenous forest, including kahikatea swamp, but most of this habitat has been lost due to agriculture, industry and urban development. Tree cover is now extremely low in this catchment and the upper rural Papakura Stream now has one of the highest E. coli levels in Auckland and ranks among the worst 25% of rural sites in New Zealand. This has reduced habitat for native species and increased sediment and pollution entering the stream and travelling to the precious Manukau Harbour.
The Papakura Stream Restoration Project aims to improve the health of the stream and the wider catchment through:
This is an extensive project crossing many different land types. We are working with the Franklin, Papakura and Manurewa local boards as well as a number of farmers and other landowners to improve the quality of the stream. The project kicked off in 2021 with the planting of more than 12,000 trees and plants on 4 project sites and 350 metres of stream fenced off. In 2022, the project was considerably scaled up and a number of new sites identified. By the end of 2023 more than 88,000 native plants have been planted by CVNZ. Not to mention vast areas of invasive weed removal and litter clean ups in the urban areas. Additionally in 2022, we partnered with Trees for Survival who are also doing extensive planting in the catchment.
This project is increasing forest cover around the stream and its catchment, improving stream quality and educating and engaging landowners and community members. Trees planted will filter water of sediment and harmful or excess nutrients before it makes its way into the stream. They will also shade the stream, which is essential for life to thrive, and will provide important food and habitat for the unique animals that call this area home. The stream and wider catchment area are home to many native species that will benefit from this programme including threatened species such as eel, inanga, and small numbers of banded kōkopu, which live in the stream itself. Increased tree cover will also provide food and habitat for bird species including kākā, bellbirds, kereru, tūī, and New Zealand’s only native mammal, the long-tailed bat/pekapeka, a rarely seen species which is known to reside in the upper reaches of the catchment. It is hoped that this project will increase life in the stream and also encourage the return of more bird life to the area in particular kākā and long-tailed bats/pekapeka.
None of this work would be possible without the help of all our partners, supporters, landowners and volunteers who who come together to protect the Papakura Stream. Our sincerest thanks to everyone who rolled up their sleeves to get involved.