Project Title: Replanting a tributary of the Hōteo River at Tomarata Farms



Metres Planted:
1600 m

Volunteer Hours:

Location: Te Ārai

GPS Coordinates: -36.193573, 174.598815

Project Cost: NZD $19200

Cost per Metre: NZD $12

Metres to be planted: 1600m

Field Partner: Auckland Council

Project ID: NI23

Project Description:


Hi, I’m John Taylor. My wife Geraldine and I have lived on our farm near Te Ārai for over 50 years. Tomarata Farms is a 178 ha beef and sheep farm. It’s part of the Hōteo catchment. That means that all the streams on our property run into the Hōteo River.

As farmers in the region, we’ve seen a lot of changes over the years in the ways that land is managed. Fifty years ago the best practice was to cut down all of the native trees along gullies and streams on your farm. This provided more grass for stock and we thought it was a good thing.

Today, we know that cutting all the trees down has had a negative impact on the health of our waterways, native fish and birds.

Over the last 10 years, we’ve been fencing and replanting the streams on our property. Today, 95% of the streams are fenced and we’ve seen the management benefits first hand: we no longer need to use a digger, or fish lost lambs out of streams!

We’re members of the Forest Bridge Trust – a farmer-initiated environment trust that supports outstanding land stewardship in the Hōteo catchment. By planting the streams on our property we’re helping to make the Trust’s vision for a thriving corridor of native bush from the Omaha Estuary on the East Coast to the Southern Kaipara Harbour a reality.


The Hōteo River is Auckland’s largest in length (28 kms), volume and catchment size. It drains approximately 408 square kilometres (10% of the Auckland Region) into the ecologically sensitive Kaipara Harbour.

The headwaters of the Hōteo start on our farm next to the Te Ārai scenic reserve. Remarkably the river spans virtually the entire island from Te Ārai in the east to the Kaipara in the west.

Sediment is one of the biggest threats to the health of the river and the harbour. Cutting down all those trees had an impact on the health of the Hōteo and the Kaipara. When the trees were cut down, their roots no longer held back the streambanks. During heavy rains, eroding soil (sediment) flows off the land and makes its way down the Hōteo and into the Kaipara.

When it enters the harbour, it impedes light and buries the seagrass meadows. These meadows are critical breeding grounds for 90 per cent of the snapper found off New Zealand’s west coast.

Re-planting streams with native bush will help reduce sediment from reaching the snapper breeding grounds in the Kaipara. It will also increase habitat for native fish and birds.


We’ve estimated that fencing and planting up all the streams on our farm will cost $400,000. That’s why we’re asking the public for help.  In 2016, we teamed up with Million Metres to raise the funds needed to plant over 10,000 plants and trees along Waiteitei Stream. We’re keen to continue to make progress and would like to plant along another section of the stream.

With your support we will plant over 9000 plants and trees along a stream and wet gully / wetland area. We will plant coloniser species such as cabbage trees, manuka, kanuka and harakeke (flax), as well as carexes near the water.

We’d like to give a big thank you to Te Ārai Native Nursery and the Integrated Kaipara Harbour Management Group. They are generously donating all of the plants and trees for this project. This really helps keep the project costs down.

We’re making our own contribution of $10,000 to the project which almost covers the planting costs. 

We’re crowdfunding for the remaining project costs: the creation of the riparian planting plan, the remaining planting costs and maintenance of the site to make sure the trees survive.  

Te Ārai Native Nursery will do the bulk of the planting, but we’re considering hosting a community planting day. We will keep you posted!


Te Ārai Native Nursery and the Integrated Kaipara Harbour Management Group (IKHMG) generously donated the plants for this project and the nursery is providing the planting and maintenance.

IKHMG provided planning and consulting on the project.

Auckland Council reviewed the final riparian planting plan.

Progress Photos: