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Wairarapa Stream, Christchurch

The Love Wairarapa Stream Project aims to restore the health of Wairarapa Stream, an urban waterway in Jellie Park, Burnside, Ōtautahi/Christchurch over three years (2019-2022). Like many urban waterways, the stream suffers from ecological degradation and is not currently a good habitat for native species or a place that people can enjoy. We are determined to change this, so that the stream can once again support a rich diversity of life, providing an abundant food resource and a place of rest and recreation for the community. Through Million Metres Streams, a Sustainable Business Network initiative aiming to improve the health of waterways throughout New Zealand through riparian planting and community involvement, we were successful in raising a total of $26,661.70 for the mahi required for this project. Learn more here

Wairarapa Stream is a tributary of the Avon/Ōtakaro River. The area through which it flows was once a rich mosaic of forest and wetlands. Following European settlement, it was converted to farmland. In 1917 the land was purchased by James Jellie who used it for commercial growing of crops and poultry farming over a 20 year period. It was then leased to dairy farmers. In the 1950s Jellie gifted the land to the people of Christchurch. Today, Wairarapa Stream is located within Jellie Park, a very popular recreational area in the suburb of Burnside. Jellie Park has a large aquatic park, children’s playground and frisbee golf course and is a popular thoroughfare for pedestrians and cyclists.

We have been working on this project with Christchurch City Council, Environment Canterbury, Working Waters Trust, Burnside Primary, St Patrick’s School, Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery, and Christchurch College of English Language, along with local businesses and volunteers. Working Waters Trust are helping us to inspire and teach school groups and business teams about stream life as they participate in working bees connected to the stream. Intended outcomes include increased engagement by local schools and residents and strengthened understanding of streamside and aquatic habitats.

Site restoration work at Wairarapa Stream started on February 21st 2019. Since then, we’ve spent over 20 days on site working with our local and international volunteers, local schools,  teams of our Conservation Work Skills participants and staff from local businesses. Work done to date has included rubbish removal, weeding, planting, and mulching. We’ve planted over 2500 trees, shrubs and grasses along the stream banks and through until 2022 we are dedicated to maintaining the plantings which have been thriving over the past two years until they are large enough to survive on their own. Some of the pest plant species that are prevalent at the site include old man’s beard, blackberry, willow and convolvulus and we will continue to tackle these through until the project’s completion in 2022. Activities at the site have increased knowledge for all those who have volunteered and have given volunteers in the community a sense of connection with their waterway.

Improvements to Wairarapa Stream through this project will benefit the local community, schools and recreation groups by making the stream a healthy place to spend time in, therefore improving the wellbeing of people in this community. The ecological and environmental benefits that we are already starting to see will be an improvement in water quality, stream health and habitat for tuna/eel and freshwater invertebrates.