The Muri Environment Care (MEC) community group is growing a variety of native plants, vines and trees to replant, to help hold back the stream banks, and sand in coastal areas. MELINA ETCHES/23111511
An enthusiastic effort is being undertaken by a whole-hearted community group whose passion is to preserve and protect the popular and beautiful Muri Lagoon in Ngatangiia.
The Muri Environment Care (MEC) community group have planted
vetiver grass alongside the banks of Parengaru Stream to stabilise the soil for
native plants to be planted.
Ann Tierney, a pioneer of MEC, explained about the
importance of vegetation surrounding streams to help to remove pollutants from
the water before it makes its way into Muri Lagoon.
Tierney noted that during past flash floods, top soil
was brought down which flowed into the stream then gushed out into the lagoon.
“The main thing for us is to try and look after the
wellbeing of Muri Lagoon,” she said.
“We are doing something practical about it to try to prevent
the soil from washing away in the streams.”
Currently, the group is focused on the Parengaru Stream
to learn more and determine if their stream rehabilitation planting programme
will be effective.
Brennan Panzarella, head ecologist at MEC, explained
about the significance of native plants and the specific roles they play in
“We are using this opportunity to grow native plants
to try and restore the stream side bank vegetation that will hold the stream
banks, to prevent them from eroding the soil that ends up in the lagoon.”
He said these particular plants are also filter
pollutants that are filtering water from the land before it gets into the
“It’s also an opportunity to create wildlife corridors
like providing native trees for birds to nest and shelter, and for sea life
like eels and kaura (freshwater crayfish).”
Panzarella noted that they are specially interested in
working with people who live near streams to find solutions that work for them,
and work for the stream.
Additionally, they are growing “vaka” plants – plants that
arrived with the first voyaging Polynesians.
Much of their seedlings and plants have come from up
in the hills while they are looking for endangered species to grow, working
with Gerald McCormack, director of the Cook Islands Natural Heritage Trust.
Panzarella also mentioned the late Joseph “Joe” Brider
who had a great passion for flora, “he is the basis for all of my knowledge in
native plants and he gave me a massive step”.
The MEC Riparian (stream planting) and Coastal
Restoration project is comprised of three main activities which are funded by
the United Nations Development Programme through the Global Environment Facility
that covers a lot of the riparian restoration.
This involves seed eco-sourcing and growing mostly
native plant species at their nursery for revegetation and ecosystem
rehabilitation efforts along streams and coastlines. Designing, establishing,
and monitoring riparian and coastal plantings is also part of their work in
addition to creating educational experiences at their nursery and planting
sites for people of all ages.
Currently the MEC volunteers are constructing a “cherry
tomato tower” recycling an old trampoline placed upside down and using old
electrical wire to build an arc for tomatoes to crawl along and grow.
If anyone has a ladder or a drill (in working order)
that they no longer need and would like to donate to the team, please contact
MEC via Facebook.
Volunteers are also welcome to join the happy
hard-working team at the nursery.