The Biota Nodes Project aims to restore the natural habitat of the Tūhaitara Coastal Park north of Christchurch through the creation of nodes — areas around permanent water holes that are cleared of weeds and pests, then planted with natives. The park’s administrator, Te Kōhaka o Tūhaitara Trust, will add more plants over time, attracting birds that help in turn with the propagation of seeds.

Greg Byrnes, Park Manager, explained that the trust’s vision is to create a coastal reserve that is founded on strong ecological, conservation and cultural values. “We also provide opportunities for compatible recreation and education activities for all New Zealanders.”

The Tindall Foundation aims to support Kiwis in developing, implementing and teaching the protection and restoration of our natural environment. This project resonated with us as a fantastic example of how communities can affect the natural environment.

We donated $5000 through our Funding Manager, WWF New Zealand, to aid the development of four of the nine biota nodes in a 12,550 square-metre area. At the nodes – named Whero, Tamariki of Woodend, Friends and Te Puāwaitanga o Tuahiwi – work has included fencing and the purchase of approximately 1800 native plants.

WWF Community Conservation Coordinator Jenny Lynch commended Te Kōhaka o Tūhaitara Trust’s policy of having community members adopt nodes. “Giving responsibility for looking after a node to schools, groups and businesses gives the local community a greater sense of ownership of the area,” Jenny said. “The investment of their time and effort also grows a sense of responsibility to make sure the area is looked after.”

A wide range of groups have adopted nodes, among them Woodend, Tuahiwi and Ferndale schools, Woodend Scouts, Friends of Tūhaitara Coastal Park, He Waka Tapu and Environment Canterbury/Te Ngāi Tuahuriri Rūnanga. AIESEC Canterbury and Westpac Bank planted a further two nodes.

According to Woodend School Principal Graeme Barber, the nodes offer important educational opportunities: “Planting trees, monitoring freshwater fish numbers and learning about environmental sustainability are some of the many and varied activities that excite and stimulate our students when they visit the park every fortnight.”

Kay-Lee Jones, a teacher at Tuahiwi School, noted that the park enables students to learn about native plants and what the land would have looked like in the time of the tūpuna [ancestors]. “It is a very special experience that helps to teach manaakitanga, kaitiakitanga and ūkaipōtanga [custodianship, protection and belonging],” Kay said.

Te Kōhaka o Tūhaitara Trust has established over 3500 native plants, including future canopy species, in the biota nodes. In recognition of these efforts, the Dune Restoration Trust of New Zealand awarded the Tūhaitara Coastal Park the 2013 award for Best Coastal Restoration Project in the country.

 For more information contact:

Greg Byrnes, Park Manager