Invasive species, trash and neglect have plagued a piece of public land described by nearby resident Leo Koppens as a “hidden gem” that needs to be polished.
On September 4 Mr Koppens will pitch the Tamahere Community Committee’s restoration plan to the plot’s owner, Waikato District Council.
Every day about 4000 drivers motor past the Tamahere Reserve in Tauwhare Rd. It’s not much to look at, reports the Waikato Times.
Mature and unpruned pine trees tower over the overgrown fence, dominating the landscape that borders Mangaone Stream, the paper reported.
Choking the undergrowth is the highly invasive Tradescantia. Gorse, Japanese honeysuckle, and Chinese privet push for space.
Delve a little deeper, though, and you’ll find the “hidden gem”.
The reserve is home to a remnant of kahikatea swamp forest with multiple stands of trees ranging from 50 to 150 years old. There’s also a healthy native understorey featuring mamaku, mahoe and ponga. Tui, fantail, torrent fish, inanga, common smelt as well as longfin and shortfin eels also live within the reserve or the stream.
If the council backs the plan, Mr Koppens envisages boardwalks and tracks meandering through native bush. He sees the Tamahere Primary School using it as a conservation project. He also sees a care group forming to manage upkeep of the site.
The Tamahere Gully Care group have already made a start. They’ve spent 130 volunteer hours cutting a track through the blackberry and pine tree debris to see if their plan was viable.
Mayor Allan Sanson and chief executive Gavin Ion have also taken a look.
Mr Koppens wants to turn the eyesore into an asset. He wants the Tradescantia and blackberry eradicated – the pines cut down in a break-even deal this summer. He wants the council to ask Regal Haulage, that leases part of the land, to abide by its consent conditions and destroy weeds in its area. Track construction, at no cost to the council, should also start alongside native plantings.
Mr Koppens has driven past the reserve since the 1970s.
Five years ago someone said: “Why don’t you restore it?”
He replied: “You’ve got to be joking, you think we’re stupid?”
Now, he says the community will is there to tackle it.