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Inaugural community planting morning for Snells Shoreline Conservation Community

By Jackie Russell

Taking the first step to regenerate the natural wilderness that once existed in our own neighbourhood is an exciting prospect.

In pre-European times the northern end of Snells Beach was probably covered in tōtara, kauri, kōwhai, and nīkau – to name a few of the more commonly known native trees. However, there were also lots of creeks surrounded by wetlands and saltmarshes that were abundant ecosystems with lesser known and lesser valued plants such as raupō, oioi, and mākaka.

Now, where storm water pipes run under our residential subdivisions, there were natural overland flow paths that soaked up rainfall and sediment. They would have also provided unique ecosystems to support native freshwater fish as well as invertebrates, frogs and birds that would have lived at Snells Beach.

Stream with grassy bank and houses.
Whisper Cove at Snells Beach before preparation for planting.
Why are we planting at Snells Beach?

Snells Shoreline Conservation Community (SSCC) wants to enhance the natural environment at Snells Beach, and restoring the saltmarsh environment will support our greater objective.

Bringing back plants that love boggy environments will “improve water quality, control floods, regulate global carbon levels and provide habitat for plants and animals uniquely adapted to living in wet conditions.” Wetlands facts 01, Auckland Council

The replanted area will go some way to mitigating all the loss of the overland waterflows. Also, shorebirds that live at Snells Beach feed at stream mouths and storm water outlets along the coastline, and it is important to improve what ends up in these feeding grounds as much as possible.

Enhancing the biodiversity of Snells Beach is one way our community can feel empowered to address climate change, bringing back the natural biodiversity engineers of Aotearoa. International recognition of the importance of this mahi throughout the world is frequently advocated by Sir David Attenborough.

“For decades, The Wildlife Trusts have been leading the way, to put nature into recovery. Bringing back precious saltmarsh and peatlands; and reintroducing beavers, our natural water engineers.” Sir David Attenborough says Let Nature Help Fight Climate Change

Where are we planting at Snells Beach?
Creek side
Whisper Cove, Snells Beach replanting area one ready for planting.

Our motivation levels went up when we discovered a couple of residents from Whisper Cove and the northern end of Snells Beach were keen to remove weeds and replant the reserve near their homes. It’s always good to meet likeminded people who are equally dedicated to protecting the environment.

They had done much of the planning

Creek, grass and houses.
Whisper Cove, Snells Beach replanting area two ready for planting.

and now, Auckland Council land, already designated for wetland or general planting between the Whisper Cove complex and the stream, can be planted.

Before any work commenced SSCC fully supported an archaeological assessment to ensure digging did not harm any important sites for mana whenua, Ngāti Manuhiri.

Grass, plants and houses.
Whisper Cove, Snells Beach replanting area three ready for planting.

Auckland Council and Snells Beach volunteers have prepared the site for planting.

What are we planting?

With the expertise and funding from the Mahurangi Land Restoration Programme and lots of input from Forest and Bird Warkworth Area a planting plan was developed.

SSCC’s objective was to ensure plants were true to what would have once been at Snells Beach and we think this has partially been achieved. However, much of the time, the planting plan is determined by availability at supplier nurseries.

From 9.30am to 11.30am on Sunday 9 July 2023 the community is invited to plant nearly 400 plants.

Scientific name Common name Number

Apodasmia similis Oioi 102

Phormium tenax Harakeke/flax 81

Cyperus ustulatus Umbrella sedge 54

Carex virgata Pukio 50

Machaerina juncea Tussock swamp twig rush 26

Juncus krausii sub. Australiensis Sea rush 24

Cordyline australis Tī kōuka/cabbage tree 15

Plagianthus divaricatus Saltmarsh ribbonwood 12

Austraderia splendens Toetoe 12

Coprosma repens Taupata 5

Leptospermum scoparium Mānuka 2

Myoporum laetum Ngaio 2

Pittosporum crassifolium Karo 2

Snells Beach residents can nurture the area, which is a wild space, not a garden. Don’t expect to see bark mulch.

This is the first step of a strategy to provide the correct environment that supports natural regeneration of the biodiversity that was formerly at Snells Beach. Throughout the next few years more planting is planned along the reserve and beach, which are covered with invasive and damaging weeds.

Although they are globally overlooked, wetlands and coastal beaches are important and diverse habitats for wildlife and unique plants that are perfectly adapted to shifting shorelines.

We owe it to our much-loved coastal playgrounds to share them respectfully with the flora and fauna that give the spaces life.



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