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Matakerepu Gorge Care Group Update
Jul 7, 2005
Author: Tim Senior, Environment Bay of Plenty

Big changes can be seen in the once-weedy area of the Nukuhou stream, Wainui Road between Opotiki and Whakatane.

During the spring and summer a contractor has made several visits to the area and begun control of a range of invasive weeds.

The first visit involved spraying seedling and small walnut / willow re-growth with glyphosate, blackberry and tradescantia with Grazon and Japanese honeysuckle with Versatill. Subsequent visits were made to drill and inject larger walnut stumps and the remaining standing walnuts and willows.

This control work has been very successful. It was particularly pleasing to find that the Japanese walnuts responded so well to glyphosate.

Over the next year or two some limited follow-up control of all the above weeds will be required. The tradescantia is likely to be the most problematic as much of it is now hidden amongst the vigorous grass and annual weed growth. There is also plenty growing on the sides of the river banks themselves which I am reluctant to control being so close to the water and probably helping to stabilise the banks.

Most of the area is now covered in grasses and annual weeds such as inkweed, black nightshade and willow weed which looks a bit messy but will at least be helping to hold the fresh silt dumped in the July flood. As yet there is little sign of native seedling recruitment but itís early days yet.

Site clean up
Transit have made a great job of tidying up the big dump area at the Opotiki end and the smaller gravel dump at the Whakatane end has also been tidied up.

Hopefully the community service gang in Opotiki will shortly clean up the remaining rubbish throughout the area and also pull the hundreds of wattle seedlings that have appeared all over the cleaned up dump area.

The piles of tree trunks and limbs left after the initial mechanical clearance seem to have settled somewhat and appear less conspicuous than they were. Unfortunately little attempt has been made by local residents to help themselves to firewood! Also little of the material seems to have been dislodged in the two floods that have occurred since the piles were made.

Revegetation
I have ordered around 900 plants for this winterís plantings. The species were chosen by Derek Gosling. Smaller shrubs such as coprosmas will be planted along both the river banks and larger shrubs and trees will be planted around the perimeter of the two old gravel dumps. Spot spraying of the planting sites has been carried out. A similar number of plants have already been ordered for next year. I have planned a community planting day on Sunday 31st July at 10am (the start of Conservation Week) to be followed by a BBQ lunch. This will be advertised shortly. Anyone interested in helping out please give me a call!