Caring for the environment  |  20 May 2019

A team of community volunteers, including local school children, is helping to restore the stream that flows through Burnside’s popular Jellie Park.

The water quality of the Wairarapa Stream, which is a tributary of the Avon/Ōtakaro River, has deteriorated in recent years.

Volunteers are helping to restore Wairarapa Stream at Jellie Park.

Students from CCEL language school are among the volunteers helping to restore Wairarapa Stream at Jellie Park.

Conservation Volunteers New Zealand (CVNZ) is leading a Love Wairarapa Stream project to help restore the urban waterway to a healthy condition so it can support a diverse range of species and become a more attractive place for people to visit.

Jellie Park is a busy recreational area with sports fields and a children’s playground near the Jellie Park Recreation and Sports Centre.

With financial support from Christchurch City Council’s Community Planting Partnership Fund and fundraising platform Million Metres Streams, CVNZ is carrying out the site preparation with community volunteers, including students from English language school CCEL.

Students from Burnside Primary, St Patricks, Cobham Intermediate and CCEL, as well as corporate groups Tonkin Taylor and Alsco, will begin planting eco-sourced native trees around the park in a few months' time.

CVNZ Regional Co-ordinator Hamish Fairbairn says urban streams are right on our doorstep but they’re often forgotten.

“Wairarapa Stream is suffering from ecological degradation and is not currently a good habitat for native freshwater species or a place that people can enjoy.

"We want to see the stream once again supporting a rich diversity of life and in time in would like to see this area as an abundant food resource while enhancing the recreational values for the community.”

He says support from the Council has been “incredible so far” but more funds are needed and a crowd-funding page has just been launched with the goal of raising $37,720 to cover the cost of plants, site preparation and ongoing weed removal for the next few years.

Site restoration work began in late February when students from CCEL removed willow saplings, elder, old man's beard, ivy, convolvulus and other invasive pest plants. 

Housing New Zealand has agreed to allow access to their properties on the other side of the stream from the park so convolvulus can be removed from there as well.

Council Community Parks Manager Al Hardy says the project is a great way to contribute to community well-being.

“Volunteer support like this is vital to maintaining and improving our parks and waterways. It’s also a way of connecting school children and adults to nature and helping them better understand local ecology. Council park rangers have been on hand providing help with clearing weeds and organising replanting.”

Mr Fairbairn says CVNZ is excited to be be working alongside Working Waters Trust who will be adding a freshwater educational component to the project, by coming to planting days and teaching  volunteers about stream life ecology.

“Everyone who helps with the planting will leave not only knowing that they’ve helped restore this wonderful stream, they’ll also gain a heap of ecological knowledge and a deeper understanding of the improvements they make,” he says.