September 8, 2023

Parakai youngsters helping Kaipara Harbour and the environment

Dozens of West Auckland children are learning the benefits of looking after the environment for the good of their future.

And they are doing it first hand by planting native trees along a waterway feeding into Kaipara River to help reduce sedimentation into the Kaipara Moana and help with rebuilding whitebait stocks.

Dozens of children from Parakai Primary and Parakai Kindergarten teamed up with the Kaipara Moana Remediation (KMR) programme, Auckland Council and Whitebait Connection last week to plant hundreds of native grasses and trees on the banks of a nearby waterway in the West Auckland township.

Kaipara Moana leader Justine Daw says she is grateful for the support and collaboration of the many partners, community groups, Ministry for the Environment and Kaipara Uri in supporting the KMR kaupapa through planting days with schools and early childhood education centres.

“We are doing a lot of remediation work around waterways and wetlands in the Auckland region which flow into the Kaipara Moana.  Although we are a relatively new programme, KMR celebrated our millionth tree this winter, and we are on our way to planting the next million. We wouldn’t be making such excellent progress in reducing sediment flows into the Kaipara Moana without the support of Auckland Council,” she says.

As Aotearoa’s largest harbour restoration programme, genuine partnership is key across the 6,000km2 Kaipara Moana catchment spanning both Auckland and Northland regions.

“We are already supporting more than a third of the landowners in the catchment to protect waterways, strengthen flood resilience, and increase local habitats and biodiversity,” says Justine.

“We are shortly to offer new funding for landowners who want to retire and plant on erosion-prone hillsides.  This is part of our ongoing support for landowners affected by Cyclone Gabrielle and other adverse weather events”.

Auckland Council Sustainable Schools Advisor Ross Martin was pleased with the success of the Parakai planting day.

“For us it is a blend of conservation and education and that connection with the future. I am really interested in teaching the children about looking after this area and acting as kaitiaki of this area and really protecting it,” he says.

“I live at Wainui and the stream at the bottom of my property runs into the Kaipara, so I am personally invested.”

Whitebait Connection has worked with schools throughout Kaipara for more than 20 years and in recent times has been focussed on discovering inanga spawning areas. It provides action based environmental education programmes for schools and communities focusing on the health of streams, rivers and wetlands.

Auckland Regional Coordinator for the Whitebait Connection, Briar Broad, believes hands-on experience in nature is the key to inspiring and engaging our tamariki to become Kaitiaki of the beautiful environment they live in.

Parakai School and Parakai Kindergarten (an Enviroschool), say it was exciting being involved in the planting day.

Enviroschools is a nationwide programme supported by Toimata Foundation, founding partner Te Mauri Tau, and a large network of regional partners. Early childhood centres and schools commit to a long-term sustainability journey, where tamariki/students connect with and explore the environment, then plan, design and act in their local places in collaboration with their communities.

The Enviroschools kaupapa is about creating a healthy, peaceful, sustainable world through learning and taking action together – exactly what took place in Parakai.

“Our year five and six students are just so proud to be part of the Kaipara Moana Remediation Project because this is our playground and this is where we spend so much of our time and we are proud of making it more beautiful,” says Parakai School’s Sue Ganley.

KMR Field Advisor Shona Oliver helped organise the planting day and was pleased with the outcome.

“By putting the right plants in our water ways, it is really going to help the health of the immediate environment. It will help hold the banks and hopefully all the grasses and native plants will create shading and the great habitat we are after,” says Shona.

For more information, or to ask about KMR’s new funding available to retire and plant on erosion-prone hillsides, email


Photo: Organisers of the Kaipara Moana Remediation native planting day at Parakai, from left to right, Auckland Council Sustainable Schools Advisor Ross Martin, Parakai Kindergarten’s Angela McLeod, Whitebait Connection Coordinators, Briar Broad, Anastasia Zaleta and Aileen Sweeney, along with KMR Field Advisor Shona Oliver.

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