Sunday, 27 September 2020


Several dune planting events to take place over the next few months

Over the next few months, several sand dune planting events will take place along Buffalo Beach in Whitianga and in Cooks Beach and Opito Bay.

Native sand-binding plants and grass species will be planted to help protect the wider Mercury Bay coastline. Everyone is welcome to attend the planting sessions. Just bring gloves, spades and wet weather gear (if required).

Sand dunes provide protection to the land, people and housing. Many insects, birds and lizards make their homes in the dunes. Over time, sand dunes experience unavoidable erosion. They are fragile and easily destroyed. Dunes rely on the plants that grow on them to trap and hold sand between storms. When dune plants are damaged, the dunes are easily lost.

Getting plants to grow in the sand is not easy. Most will die due to the dry, sandy soil or exposure to salt spray. Planting native species can help to maintain the dune ecosystem. Native plants can survive severe storms, salt spray and being buried under the sand.

On Sunday 2 June (Queen’s Birthday Weekend), the Cook’s Beachcare Group will be holding a community planting event along Cooks Beach. Those who would like to participate are asked to meet at 9:30am at the corner of Marine Parade and Rivas Avenue. If it’s heavily raining, the session will be held at the same time on Monday 3 June.

Approximately 4,000 plants will be planted, so all help will be appreciated. Earlier this year, the Cooks Beachcare Group received the Coastal Restoration Trust’s national award for the “Best Coastal Restoration Project of the Year.”

On Saturday 8 June, more planting will be done along areas of Buffalo Beach where dune plants have been planted previously. This planting event is arranged by Thames-Coromandel District Council and is supported by the Department of Conservation. Community members who would like to help can meet at the Mercury Bay Boating Club between 8:00am and 12:00 noon. The Whitianga Lions will be holding a sausage sizzle mid-morning for all volunteers.   

On Saturday 20 July, a dune planting event will be held in Opito Bay at new and previously restored dune areas. The event is arranged by the Opito Bay Ratepayers Association.

In early August, a dune planting event will take place at the Purangi Reserve in Cooks Beach. The date is yet to be confirmed.

On Saturday 24 August, a planting event will be held along an area of Buffalo Beach where no dune planting has been done before. This event is also arranged by TCDC and will be supported by a fifth wheeler rally of the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association that will be held in Whitianga during that time. A sausage sizzle immediately following the planting will be arranged by the fifth wheelers for all the volunteers who helped on the day.

The most common native species that will be planted during all the dune planting events include spinifex, pingao, knobby club rush and muehlenbeckia.

Pimelea villosa (sand daphne) is another important native sand dune species. The species is in decline, so TCDC, DOC, other government agencies and members of the public interested in dune restoration are always on the lookout for more plants growing on the dunes. Some pockets are growing in Cooks Beach, along Buffalo Beach and in Matarangi.

Pingao is an interesting dune plant species. The species grows tufts of coarse, grass-like leaves of a rich golden colour. The plant has typically been sought-after by Māori weavers for its bright golden yellow fibre once sun-dried. It is commonly used to make kete (baskets), and tukutuku panelling (decorative art panels for meeting houses).

Pictured: Pimelea villosa (sand daphne) is a native sand dune plant species that is declining. Only small pockets are found in dune areas around New Zealand.


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