Wetland restoration project update
Rotorua Lakes Council, Ngāti Uenukukōpako and Ngāti Te Roro o te rangi are turning back time at Waikawau/Hannahs Bay with the help of Te Arawa Lakes Trust, and the Eastside community.
Earlier this month, more than 15,000 natives were planted across the wetlands, helping to restore the whenua (land), redeveloping the space to reflect the landscape that inspired the area’s original name – Waikawau.
The reserve is said to have been named by Ihenga, the Te Arawa explorer who named many of the district’s ngā tūtohu whenua (landmarks). It is said that he gave the name Waikawau, having come upon the shore and seeing a mass abundance of Kawau (a general term for a variety of shags) said “ka horohia te wai e te Kawau” (the waters here have been overwhelmed by the Kawau).
It’s with this environmental and cultural significance in mind that Rotorua Lakes Council, in partnership with iwi, the Waikawau/Hannahs Bay Reserve Committee and Tatau Pounamu Eastside Collective and with the support of the wider eastside community, committed to the ongoing protection and enhancement of the important ecological and conservation values associated with the reserve – in particular the Otauira wetlands.
Revegetation is a significant part of the wetland restoration and will continue over the next three years. As the wetlands transform and settle, they will become home again to birds, insects and plant life that forms the important ecosystem on the edge of Lake Rotorua and will provide a community resource for environmental education initiatives.
Te Arawa Lakes Trust were contracted to carry out the project. After planting an initial 13,000 natives, a portion of the plants were kept aside for tamariki from Rotokawa School and Ōwhata Primary, and members of the wider the community, so they could also contribute to the enhancement of the reserve.
The reserve is now fully open to the public with minor walking path closures expected over the next few months. A boardwalk will be constructed to connect the path at the eastern end of the reserve where the water flows from the wetlands into Lake Rotorua, and information panels and signage will also be updated at a later stage in the project.