Kai Iwi students dig in for Mōwhanāu Stream

Horizons Regional Council and Kai Iwi School took part in a farm planting day along the Mōwhanāu Stream last week to help improve water quality.

Horizons freshwater coordinator Scotty Moore helped coordinate and facilitate the day on Hamish and Helen McDougal’s farm, with 33 students getting approximately 700 plants in the ground.
“It’s great to get the kids out in their local environment, especially along a stream like the Mōwhanāu, that could benefit from some extra help. The plants these kids have put in will help to filter sediment and nutrients that come off the land and in time improve the water quality,” explains Mr Moore.
Hamish and Helen McDougal were pleased to have the student’s help and the students will be able to look back with pride when they travel past knowing they did all that hard work.
“This is the fourth planting we’ve done with the school along the Mōwhanāu Stream, that runs along the bottom of our farm which is about 366 hectares. It’s great to get the students outdoors and putting into action what they’ve been learning about back in the classroom,” explains Helen.
“These kids are getting to see tree growth from three years back and how that growth is improving biodiversity along the stream. With Scotty’s help we’ve been able to demonstrate the value of fencing and planting alongside the waterway to improve the overall water quality to the students.”
The Mōwhanāu is one of three small streams, along with the Kai Iwi and Ototoka, just north of Whanganui which are popular for recreation but face challenges with the water quality presenting consistently high levels of E.coli throughout summer.
Freshwater and partnerships manager Logan Brown says the Mōwhanāu has been a part of Horizons summer swim spot monitoring programme and non-regulatory efforts to improve water quality for many years.
“These efforts include a targeted exclusion of stock, with our team actively working with iwi and landowners such as the McDougals to reduce sediment and nutrients through run-off,” explains Mr Brown.
“While we’ve seen improvements to water quality of the streams in the wider catchment over a period of years due to the work in the catchment, the popular swim spot near the coast still does not regularly meet the standards for swimmability and a permanent health warning sign for the three streams has been established. The more landowners who undertake these initiatives the more likely we’ll see improvement.
“We welcome enquiries from landowners in the catchment who would like to add to the good work already done and encourage them to contact the freshwater team at Horizons on freephone 0508 800 800 to see how we can assist, there is currently grant funding available for work in these catchments over the next year.”