Draft OARC Regeneration Plan - 2: Regenerating nature

A close-up of a person holding a koura

Objectives: Create a restored native habitat with good quality water so there is an abundant source of mahinga kai, birdlife and native species.

Demonstrate how to adapt to the challenges and opportunities presented by natural hazards, climate change and a river’s floodplain.

There is opportunity for extensive regeneration of native ecosystems to protect and enhance mahinga kai of the Ōtākaro/Avon River. By understanding the river’s floodplain, habitats, soil types and the effects of sea level rise, we can work with nature to restore native habitats and ecosystems.


Ecological principles

The following principles will inform the regeneration of native ecosystems along the river corridor:

Working with nature – taking the lead from natural processes.

Ecological integration – integrating ecology into the planning, design and development processes.

Maintain mātauranga – enhancing people’s understanding of nature and their role in its protection.

Adaptive management – responding to environmental changes.

Connection – connecting restored river habitats with wider ecosystems.


Working with nature

Establishing riparian ecosystems to protect the riverbanks from flood damage and using native wetlands to improve stormwater quality are key elements in regenerating cities in the 21st century. Using natural systems to support engineering solutions offers more sustainable and affordable options.
Find out more in the Living with Water section.


Naturalising edges

As swamps were drained and houses built on the floodplain, the Ōtākaro/Avon River was progressively confined between steep artificial banks planted with exotic trees. Naturalising the river edges and re-creating some of the wetlands and river terraces will provide habitats for īnanga (whitebait), tuna (eels) and birds, and act as a buffer to reduce storm and flood damage.


Environmental change

Salt water brought in on the tide currently influences vegetation as far upstream as Avondale Bridge near Bower Avenue. With sea level rise, ecosystems will need to adapt to changing conditions as water levels rise and salinity increases further up the river.

A map showing how the environment along the river changes between the city and the estuary

Heritage
Maintain existing exotic trees that contribute to historic landscape character.
Exotic trees provide nesting spots for birds and shade for fish, and help stabilise the riverbank.

Wetland
Enhance existing water margins with oioi (jointed wire rush), pūkio (tussock sedges), karamū, tī kōuka (cabbage tree), harakeke
(NZ flax), pūrei (Carex secta) and raupō (Typha orientalis).

Forest
Restore diverse indigenous forest ecosystems
Dry forest: Houhere (narrow leaved lacebark), kānuka and black matipo / kōhūhū, tarata (lemonwood), pōkākā, fivefinger, whauwhaupaku, horopito (peppertree)
Dune forest: Tōtara, black pine, lowland ribbonwood and South Island kōwhai, lancewood (horoeka), tītoki, hīnau
Lowland forest: Kahikatea (white pine), hīnau/pākākā and mataī (black pine), putaputawētā, (marbleleaf), shining karamū, makomako (wineberry)

Mahinga kai exemplar
The mahinga kai exemplar is a community-led restoration project creating an extended wetlands with forested margins.

Cockayne Reserve
This is the largest remaining fragment of riparian wetland vegetation that once covered an extensive area in the lower Ōtākaro/Avon catchment (refer Black Maps, 1856; McIntyre 1980).


Objectives: Create a restored native habitat with good quality water so there is an abundant source of mahinga kai, birdlife and native species.

Demonstrate how to adapt to the challenges and opportunities presented by natural hazards, climate change and a river’s floodplain.

There is opportunity for extensive regeneration of native ecosystems to protect and enhance mahinga kai of the Ōtākaro/Avon River. By understanding the river’s floodplain, habitats, soil types and the effects of sea level rise, we can work with nature to restore native habitats and ecosystems.


Ecological principles

The following principles will inform the regeneration of native ecosystems along the river corridor:

Working with nature – taking the lead from natural processes.

Ecological integration – integrating ecology into the planning, design and development processes.

Maintain mātauranga – enhancing people’s understanding of nature and their role in its protection.

Adaptive management – responding to environmental changes.

Connection – connecting restored river habitats with wider ecosystems.


Working with nature

Establishing riparian ecosystems to protect the riverbanks from flood damage and using native wetlands to improve stormwater quality are key elements in regenerating cities in the 21st century. Using natural systems to support engineering solutions offers more sustainable and affordable options.
Find out more in the Living with Water section.


Naturalising edges

As swamps were drained and houses built on the floodplain, the Ōtākaro/Avon River was progressively confined between steep artificial banks planted with exotic trees. Naturalising the river edges and re-creating some of the wetlands and river terraces will provide habitats for īnanga (whitebait), tuna (eels) and birds, and act as a buffer to reduce storm and flood damage.


Environmental change

Salt water brought in on the tide currently influences vegetation as far upstream as Avondale Bridge near Bower Avenue. With sea level rise, ecosystems will need to adapt to changing conditions as water levels rise and salinity increases further up the river.

A map showing how the environment along the river changes between the city and the estuary

Heritage
Maintain existing exotic trees that contribute to historic landscape character.
Exotic trees provide nesting spots for birds and shade for fish, and help stabilise the riverbank.

Wetland
Enhance existing water margins with oioi (jointed wire rush), pūkio (tussock sedges), karamū, tī kōuka (cabbage tree), harakeke
(NZ flax), pūrei (Carex secta) and raupō (Typha orientalis).

Forest
Restore diverse indigenous forest ecosystems
Dry forest: Houhere (narrow leaved lacebark), kānuka and black matipo / kōhūhū, tarata (lemonwood), pōkākā, fivefinger, whauwhaupaku, horopito (peppertree)
Dune forest: Tōtara, black pine, lowland ribbonwood and South Island kōwhai, lancewood (horoeka), tītoki, hīnau
Lowland forest: Kahikatea (white pine), hīnau/pākākā and mataī (black pine), putaputawētā, (marbleleaf), shining karamū, makomako (wineberry)

Mahinga kai exemplar
The mahinga kai exemplar is a community-led restoration project creating an extended wetlands with forested margins.

Cockayne Reserve
This is the largest remaining fragment of riparian wetland vegetation that once covered an extensive area in the lower Ōtākaro/Avon catchment (refer Black Maps, 1856; McIntyre 1980).