A Bay of Plenty estuary is being restored to its former health, after the removal of two causeways from Papahikahawai Creek.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council Kaituna Catchments Manager Pim de Monchy said that since their installation in 1963, the causeways had been blocking tidal flows from getting into Papahikahawai Lagoon and made it unhealthy.
“Fifty-four years of algae build-up will now gradually flush out of the lagoon and we expect fish such as mullet, inanga, kahawai and flounder to return to this part of the estuary in the coming days, weeks and months,” Mr de Monchy said.
Local iwi and community members gathered together with staff and councillors from Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council to celebrate the estuary re-connection, and a new bridge to maintain access between Papahikahawai Island and Maketū Spit, was also blessed and officially opened.
Waitaha kaumatua and Te Maru o Kaituna River Authority member Maru Tapsell said that the Papahikahawai estuary used to be a breeding ground for fish.
“But that doesn’t happen anymore. By opening this (channel) up again, we’re opening the pathway for those fish to come back to this breeding ground. It can become the food bowl for Te Arawa once again,” he said.
The project also includes planting of more than 50,000 native plants across the island and thousands of hours weed and animal pest control over the next ten years. Some 7000 plants went in last year and another 7000 were planted this winter by local groups.
Photos show before and after the Papahikahawai Creek reconnection in Maketū Estuary.