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Weedbusting on Stewart Island
May 28, 2004
Author: Department of Conservation

Halfmoon Bay School on Stewart Island have just spent a day looking after one of their local beaches. As part of a the Department of Conservation’s ‘Weedbusters’ initiative, the school has adopted Bathing Beach and has been working with DOC to get rid of the weed marram and replant some of New Zealand’s native sand binders.

The school started the day by visiting the community nursery to look at plant propagation and to select their own individual pingao plant. “It was the most fantastic day”, said Stewart Island Biodiversity Programme Manager Brent Beaven. “It was educational and fun, and the students will be able to keep going back to see the difference that they have made”.

A quick trip down to Bathing Beach allowed the students to learn about the weed marram and then plant their pingao in the dunes. The plants were all individually named and labelled so that the students can map their growth over time.

Stewart Island’s beaches, like the rest of New Zealand, have been invaded with dune weeds. “Marram is vigorously taking over some of our most spectacular beaches, out competing threatened native plants such as pingao, and changing the very way that dunes are formed”, said Brent Beaven. This change in landscape also removes breeding habitat for bird species like the endangered New Zealand dotterel, banded dotterel and pipit.

The Department of Conservation’s Stewart Island Fieldcentre is launching a major assault on marram this year. This will be focussed on one of Stewart Island’s biggest and most iconic beaches – Mason Bay.

Mason Bay, described as a dune system of international significance, will have marram completely removed and pingao restored over the next ten years. This is the biggest single dune protection project in the Southern Hemisphere and has been enabled by the government’s new biodiversity funding.


For more information please contact Brent Beaven at the Department of Conservation, Ph 03 2190007; Background information is available at and click on: Conservation: Weeds