Project Title: Restoring Lower Mangapiko Stream

Funding Close Date: 12 May 2019



Metres Planted:
2020 m

NZD $50000

Location: Near Pirongia

GPS Coordinates: -37.979760, 175.219077

Project Cost: NZD $50000

Cost per Metre: NZD $25

Metres to be planted: 2000m

Field Partner: Waikato Regional Council

Project ID: NI28

Project Description:

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Hi, I’m Don Macky, Chairman of the Lower Mangapiko Stream Care Group.

Since 2006 we’ve been bringing together landowners, businesses, schools and volunteers to clean up and restore the Lower Mangapiko Stream.

The section of the Mangapiko that is our focus runs from Te Awamutu to Pirongia. Our aim is to clear the stream of all the old variety willows and to fence and plant with native species, flaxes, appropriate grasses etc. We’re over halfway there – about 30 Km out of a possible 43 Km (both sides of the stream) have been either fully or partially fenced and planted.

By undertaking this process, we are tackling the issues of erosion and flooding while reducing sediment and improving the habitat along the stream in an effort to restore it as much as possible to its original condition before farming development destroyed the once pristine stream.

Our vision is for all community members living within the Lower Mangapiko Catchment to care about and actively participate in the restoration, enhancement and protection of the local stream environment.


Back in the latter part of the 19th Century and the first half of the 20th Century the pioneering farming families cleared most of the country around this area of the original native bush and drained a lot of the swamps and low lying areas.

Early on in this process willows were planted along the sides of the Mangapiko stream to help protect the banks from erosion following the removal of the original vegetation. Like most of the introductions to NZ, both animal and vegetable, the willow became extremely prolific – it grew and grew and then started falling over, into and across the stream – again and again. This process choked the flow of the stream, the end result being extreme flooding following heavy rain.

Following the Second W.W. there was a centralisation of Dairy Co-ops / Factories – the smaller local factories closed as mechanised transport allowed movement of whole milk to larger factories. In Te Awamutu there were two dairy co-op factories, being the NZ Co-op and the Te Awamutu Co-op. The milk was still being separated into fat, known as butterfat, and protein, known as whey. Farmers were paid for butterfat only, with the whey available to be fed to pigs, but the great majority being put into the Mangapiko stream.

This whey flowing into the Mangapiko was catastrophic for the health of the river especially in the summer when the water level and flow-rate was low anyway. This, combined with the tangle of willows in and across the stream caused the Mangapiko to smell like a poorly managed human effluent pond – the stream stank and was dead!! It would have been one of the most polluted waterways of the World!!

As a boy growing up during the 50’s I remember seeing all the eels congregated as a swarming mass as they all competed to get their noses into fresh water flowing into the stream from the drains that were emptying their water into the Mangapiko – they had to compete for the limited fresh water available to be able to get the oxygen they needed to stay alive!!!

In the 60’s the willows were all cut down, cleared from the river and burned. However there was no follow-up spraying of remerging shoots springing out of the stumps so it was only a matter of about 30 to 40 years later that the willow had managed to re-establish and started following the same process that had happened 100 years before – the clogging of the stream.

So now 50 years later we are again clearing the old variety willows, but this time we are following-up with the necessary spraying / maintenance to ensure that their eradication is complete.


The riparian fencing and planting being undertaken today is properly planned and co-ordinated by specialists in their field. These properly trained personnel use the correct modern Matsudana hybrid willows that do not proliferate, but quickly establish strong rooting to help stabilise the river banks, as well as introduce various different native tree species, flaxes, grasses etc. 

Please note that funds raised on Million Metres will go towards 5,500 native trees but will not be used for the 50 Matsudana willows. We will find another source of funds for the willows.  

The plantings are properly fenced and protected to create a lovely native corridor running through our countryside. And within this corridor will once again be a nice clear water stream which again will become home to the eels and the fish-life – and into which children can again jump, swim and play!!!


You can help us restore 2,000 metres of Mangapiko Stream on four adjoining rural properties!

David van Straalen and his family are dairy farmers on the true right of the stream, with 4.5km of stream boundary. The van Straalen’s fenced their section of the stream off twelve years ago and have been progressively planting as funding and time allows. We plan to plant Matsudana willows for bank stabilisation and an open area of stream bank for amenity and shade.

Tony and Shirley Brown are on the true left of the stream and have been on this property since 2004. They retired a steep bank and riparian margin four years ago. They are cropping the flat land above the stream only, with no stock. They have 850m of stream. Tony and Shirley also have another farm which bounds the Waipa River. With assistance from Waikato Regional Council and Whaingaroa Harbour Care, they have planted it with 80,000 native plants and it is looking amazing. The funding from this fundraiser will allow a retired riparian area currently in grass, to be planted in mixed natives for shade and biodiversity.

Julian Wood and his family have been on their lifestyle property for two years. They have 1.2km of stream on the true left of the stream, next to the Browns. This area is already fenced and has been previously planted with a mix of native plants and some Matsudana willows for erosion control. There are some weedy willows and other pest plants that will be removed, then 2,500 native plants can be planted.

Bill Reymer and his family are next to the Woods on the true left and have 820m of stream bank. Bill has already retired the majority of the steep riparian margins on his farm, and there is a good mixture of mature manuka, totara, native ferns, rimu and more. The funds we raise will help plant a wetland area alongside the stream and understory planting beneath the mature trees to help prevent weed establishment, and to filter sediment on the steep slope.

The selection of native plants to be planted will include carex grasses, harakeke (flax), Cabbage trees, ribbonwood, and kahikatea in the wetter areas along the water and toetoe, manuka, coprosma, totara, kanuka, kawakawa and kowhai further up the bank.

We’re raising the funds needed to prep the site, the planting of the site and two post-care visits to maintain the planting.

The budget also includes the cost of the 5,500 native plants and trees. Please note that funds raised will not go towards the 50 Matsudana willows. Funds for the willows will come from other sources. Finally, funds raised will be used on materials to control erosion as well as Million Metres 15% admin fee.  

How you can Help!

Please make a contribution to our project today and help us get that much closer to our goal! 

Simply click on the green “DONATE” button at the top right of the page to donate by credit card. 

If you prefer to make payment directly to our account or by check, email

If you are a business and would like us to create an invoice for you, email 

Thank you for your support! 


We couldn’t do this work alone. The four families and other local landowners, NZ Landcare Trust and the Waikato Regional Council are our key partners on this project.