Bringing life back to the Wainuiomata River – 2020 Project Update

28 Apr 2021 by Rosa Thompson

Despite the continuous challenges and disruptions of 2020, the Friends of Baring Head were able to make huge progress towards their long-term restoration goal of bringing life back to the banks of the Wainuiomata River! This was thanks to continued support from generous businesses and individuals committing further help for waterway restoration across Aotearoa. Read on for an update on their progress in the 2020 planting season and plans for the upcoming year.

Baring Head is a spectacular 284 hectare headland and river valley on the coast south of Wainuiomata, between Palliser Bay and Wellington Harbour. The Friends of Baring Head support the protection, maintenance and restoration of Baring Head, with a 10 year vision to restore a riverine forest along all the lower reaches of the Wainuiomata River. 

Despite Covid-19 restrictions, the Friends of Baring Head still managed to get over 7000 native trees and plants in the ground during the 2020 season, planting 611m of riparian waterway! This was largely achieved by an amazing effort from a small team of regular volunteers, and a team of conservation work skills trainees managed by Conservation Volunteers New Zealand (CVNZ). Check out this neat Stuff article for more on CVNZ's Work Skills Programme. A big thank you to the Garage Project who also got their hands dirty and helped out at one of the planting days! 

Update from Paula Warren, Friends of Baring Head:

Paula Warren, Friends of Baring Head describes how the group responded nimbly to Covid-19 restrictions:

“We originally planned on using jute and wool mats to kill grass, rather than doing spot spraying which is difficult to manage at this windy site. Laying mats was due to begin the day before New Zealand went into lockdown. By the time we could run full working bees again, it was too late to use that method, so we manually turfed grass off the sites instead.

Although few corporate planting days were possible this year, the Hutt Valley Tramping Club stepped in to fill some of the gap in capacity, doing a workday most weeks for a couple of months.

We also made the decision to only plant sites that were easily accessed (to reduce the labour needed for planting), were likely to stay wet for longer (prolonging the planting season), and were easily worked (no rocks and not very thick grass). Because of the delays due to COVID, the planting season stretched into October and November. Fortunately, November and December were unusually wet and most of the plants inspected at the end of January were very healthy!”

2021 Planting Season: 

The restoration of the Wainuiomata River at Baring Head has had a brilliant start thanks to so much incredible support! Since 2018, the Friends of Baring Head have managed to get over 13,000 plants in the ground. All those plants are growing and making a difference, but work isn’t finished yet!

At the beginning of the year, Friends of Baring Head and Million Metres kicked off a new fundraiser in support of the 2021 planting season. Funds raised will support an additional 8,000 native plants!

Check out their new project here: 2021 Wainuiomata River Restoration at Baring Head