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Protecting our precious places

Protecting Tararua and Hawke's Bay waterways

Partnerships between farmers, councils and QEII help to protect waterways as well as bush remnants

Protecting natural features with QEII covenants makes good farm management sense.

When covenanting an area, fencing is usually required to exclude stock from the protected vegetation.

This prevents animals trampling the land and allows native vegetation to regenerate.

When covenants are alongside streams, an added benefit resulting from the fencing is the improvement of water quality in catchment areas.

Excluding stock reduces the likelihood of banks collapsing and adding silt to the channels.

Pollution is controlled as the vegetation intercepts sediment and nutrient runoff from adjacent paddocks.

Direct fouling of water by stock is also prevented.

Landowners who protect bush or wetlands on their farms with covenants may be eligible for assistance from QEII for partial fencing costs. Councils may also contribute to fencing.

Fencing on a Patoka farm Photo: Marie Taylor

Left: On Raumati, Kynan and Nicola Thomsen’s farm at Patoka north-west of Napier, the fencing along this deep kanuka gully excludes stock from the gorge, helping to improve the water quality in the Wai-iti Stream catchment.


Farmers in Tararua and Hawke's Bay explain why they have retired land alongside waterways and protected the areas with QEII covenants.

Tararua: Stabilising the banks of the Waikoukou Stream

South of Takapau, Murray Alderson protected a black beech and kowhai-tarata forest remnant along the steeply incised Waikoukou Stream with a 4.6ha covenant in November 2008.

Beech occurs in Puketoi Ecological District only very locally on the steep sides of streams in the northern corner of the district.

Murray Alderson by Waikoukou Stream Photo: Bill Wallace

Above: Murray Alderson by Waikoukou Stream which flows through the centre of the QEII covenant on his 220ha sheep and beef farm.

Bill Wallace, QEII Tararua Regional Representative, says forest remnants along the Waikoukou and Waikopiro Streams and the upper Manawatu River are the only indigenous habitat left in the area.

‘As well as helping to improve the water quality, these remnants form excellent corridors for birdlife including kereru, tui and bellbirds,’ he explains.

Murray is a keen tramper and loves the bush.

‘This forest is now preserved forever,’ he says.

‘It will continue to provide food for the birds as they go from one area to another and will help to encourage even more birdlife.’

8-wire electric fence Photo: Bill Wallace

Left: To complete the fencing around the long narrow black beech remnant, this 8-wire (2 electric) fence was constructed with contributions from Horizons Regional Council, QEII and the landowner.

Revegetation planting and natural regeneration will help to stabilise the steep sides of the stream.






Tararua: Maintaining the excellent health of Makatote Stream

On her remote 800ha sheep and beef farm near Mara south-east of Pongaroa, Janette Walker protected a significant block of regenerating kanuka forest with a 36ha covenant in July 2008.

With a prominent greywacke razorback ridge descending to the Makatote Stream, the covenant is adjacent to a larger area of forest on Owahanga Station.

Stream in the covenant. Photo: Bill Wallace

Left: Monitoring by the Greater Wellington Regional Council shows streams in this area have excellent water quality and ecosystem health resulting from the low intensity farming and significant kanuka and forest cover.








Janette says there are a number of benefits in protecting the block. ‘There are eels and freshwater flounder in the stream,’ she explains. ‘Retiring the land will keep it healthy.

‘The area was difficult to muster. I couldn’t have fenced it myself so the contributions from QEII and the Greater Wellington Regional Council helped with retiring this unprofitable piece of land.

‘The berries on the totara and karaka and kowhai and rewarewa flowers draw lots of kereru, tui and bellbirds which is a highlight for me.

‘And then the back corner of the block is on the boundary with the reserve so it really made sense to protect it.’

Fencing the steep hill country block had its challenges.

Janette’s organisational skills were a major factor in doing the job in the most economical way possible.

‘The fencer used a bulldozer with a rammer on it as it couldn’t have been done any other way,’ says Janette.

‘The fence is over two kilometres long and it took nearly seventy hours of bulldozing to do the work. Dynamite was also used in a couple of places to blow the tops.

‘All the materials were put onto numbered pallets,’ she says.

‘A helicopter then dropped them off at specified points along the line. It took only two hours to do this whereas it would have been almost impossible to take the materials in by bike.’

Janette Walker by the new covenant fence Photo: Bill Wallace

Above: Janette Walker by the new 8-wire post and batten fence constructed with contributions from the Greater Wellington Regional Council, QEII and the landowner.

Once an approved covenant is fenced, the area needs to be surveyed before a covenant can be registered on the title to the land.

Terry James from The Surveying Company in Hawke's Bay surveyed Janette’s covenant.

‘The steepness was a challenge,’ says Terry. ‘There were lots of high points along the line and I had to climb a bit like a mountain goat.

‘It’s almost impossible to put a fence line in such difficult country and it’s a credit to Janette’s co-ordination that this one was built so well. Having the lines cleared with a bulldozer does make it easier for us.

‘As well as enjoying farmers’ hospitality such as Janette’s fantastic scones, we certainly see the best of everything when we are out in such remote country surveying covenants for QEII.’

Fence along steep country Photo: Bill Wallace

Above: With Janette Walker’s covenant in place, this steep country along the Makatote Stream has now been retired which will help to maintain the health of the stream.

Hawke's Bay: Extending the network of protected water catchments at Patoka

A deeply incised stream system that makes up the headwaters of the Wai-iti Stream at Patoka north-west of Napier was protected with the 49ha Gorges Bush covenant by John Kamp in August 2008.

In this remarkable limestone landscape of bluffs, stalagmites, stalactites and columns, there were major practical and financial issues to consider before fencing the long finger-like gullies.

As excluding stock would improve downstream water quality, preserve significant remnant vegetation along the waterways and reduce the risk of bank erosion, fencing the covenant was considered worthwhile.

The cost of constructing the new fencing and refurbishing existing fences, a total of over 10km in length, was funded by QEII, the Biodiversity Condition Fund, Hawke's Bay Regional Council and the landowner.

With the exceptionally complicated boundaries, the survey comprised over 200 separate lines.

Gorges Bush covenant Photo: Marie Taylor
Left: The gully system protected by the Gorges Bush covenant is now fully fenced.










New covenant fence Photo: Troy DuncanLeft The fences are mainly 8-9 wires (with 1-3 electric wires depending on the location).











John Kamp says the covenant is a terrific win-win as the gullies were difficult to farm.

‘Marie Taylor, the QEII Hawke's Bay Regional Representative at the time, was fantastic with pushing the project along and getting funding for the fencing,’ he explains.

‘The fencing has taken out the obstacles, allowing the farm to be reorganised and it’s now more efficient to manage.

‘Being able to direct energy into the more productive land has made the place.’

John Kamp Photo: Courtesy of Country-Wide

Above: John Kamp beside the spectacular Gorges Bush covenant. Rewarewa and putaputaweta (marble leaf) forest is regenerating in the gully heads. Photo: Courtesy of Country-Wide

The Gorges Bush covenant is now owned by John’s neighbours, Kynan and Nicola Thomsen, who have two other covenants in the same catchment.

The first 49ha covenant was originally put in place by Michael and Helen Halliday in 1992.

To increase the area under protection, another covenant was approved in 2008.

Kynan also believes covenanting is a win-win.

‘It adds value to the farm and the flora and fauna is protected,’ he says.

‘Managing the stock is easier and they are safe with the gullies fenced off.

‘We really appreciate the work Marie and QEII did to get this gorge network protected.’

Upgraded fence Photo: Mark Dean

Above: On Raumati, their property near Patoka, the Thomsens recently upgraded the fencing along the kanuka gully that has been protected with a QEII covenant since 1992.

For more about other inspired landowners protecting water catchments at Patoka, see Open SpaceTM No. 62, November 2004 or visit Covenant Stories

Open SpaceTM Magazine No. 76, July 2009 © QEII National Trust

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