The Lower Mangapiko is a Waikato waterway that has been badly impacted by human activity. Don knows a lot about the history of the stream and it’s this story that motivates him to contribute to a different future for the Mangapiko.
Don says “We are the guardians of the land for our lifetimes. I believe that everyone should be able to enjoy this beautiful environment that we have, now and for generations to come”
Historically, the land in the area was cleared for farming which led to erosion of the stream banks. Willow trees that were planted to stabilize the banks spread prolifically. These trees would break, fall into the river and then grow again, a process that led to the stream becoming choked and stagnant, and to flooding after rain.
In addition, in the mid twentieth century, dairy companies in the area only paid farmers for the butterfat component of their milk. The leftover whey was available to feed to pigs, but most of it ended up dumped in the Mangapiko Stream.
The whey was catastrophic for the health of the stream especially in the summer when the water level and flow-rate was low anyway. Don says that this, combined with the tangle of willows in and across the stream caused the Mangapiko to smell like a poorly managed human effluent pond.
“As a boy growing up during the 50’s I remember seeing all the eels congregated as a swarming mass as they competed to get their noses into fresh water flowing into the stream from the drains – they had to compete for the limited fresh water available to be able to get the oxygen they needed to stay alive!!!
Happily, in more recent times, the fortunes of the stream have improved significantly. Since 2006, the Lower Mangapiko Stream Care Group have been working with the wider community to remove the willows, and to fence and plant. Out of a possible 43 kilometres, 30 kilometres of the stream are now either fully or partially fenced and planted.
The group’s vision is for all those living in the local area to care about and actively participate in the restoration, enhancement and protection of the local stream environment. And for the river to be restored as much as possible to its original, pristine condition.
The group are currently crowdfunding with Million Metres to restore an additional 2 kilometres of the stream across four adjoining properties. With less than a week left to reach their fundraising goal they would very much appreciate the support of businesses and individuals. There is currently a match fund on the project which means that any donation will be doubled.