About us – Castlecliff Coast Care
Since 2007,Castlecliff Coast Care has been planting native trees (Ngaio, Coprosma, Ti Kouka/Cabbage Tree, Corokia, Harakeke/ Flax, Pittosporum, Karamu, Hebe, Whau, Tuapata and Muehlenbeckia) on the back dunes. Improving habitat and biodiversity through replacing invasive weed species on the rear dunes with eco-sourced native plants endemic to the region.
More recently, we have planted the native sand binding plants Spinifex and Pingao on the foredunes. In this location the native sand binders trap the wind blown sand on the foredunes and thrive in this salt laden wind from the southwest, growing long runners (stolons) seaward that can withstand high tides and storms that reach up into the foredunes. They are very special and do the best job of growing low, rounded sand dunes by binding the sand and rebuilding the dune after a storm. They are also planted to stabilise the degraded dunes resulting from human damage.
The Castlecliff coast is part of the longest unbroken dune system in Aotearoa, stretching down the coast from South Taranaki to Paekakariki. It is unique and very special.
Coast Care uses locally eco-sourced plants which have been grown by Coastlands Nursery. There are 7 stages in producing these plants and they are all time consuming because everything is done by hand.
- Coast Care collects the viable seed heads, late January, early February.
- Dispatches seed heads to Coastlands Nursery.
- Separating seed out of spikelet husks.
- Growing the Spinifex to about 80cm high.
- Eighteen months after seed collection Coast Care plants the Spinifex and Pingao during Winter/Spring in deep holes in the sand along with a slow release fertiliser tablet.
- The plants rapidly establish and start the sand binding process.
- Maintaining/protecting. There will always be some losses from storms so follow up plantings are required.
Progress Castlecliff Coast Care regularly involves a number of Whanganui community groups and businesses such as schools/Kura, disability organisations, banks and individuals in the weed removal, planting and maintenance activities. During 2021 we are expecting trainees from the Careers in Conservation Trades Academy, which is being run by AGC training to join our team of helpers.
Provision of outdoor work and volunteer opportunities involve people in the wider Whanganui Community and increase local resident’s appreciation and investment in dune protection. The impact of these educational hands-on activities on the actual dune environment through the planting of Harakeke and Pingao for example, benefit both the dune environment and provide fibre for local weavers.
Castlecliff Coast Care, with assistance from WDC, has recently erected signage that focuses on respect and provides education at the same time, rather than simply “do not” signage. It is proposed to enhance these static messages by having a local “Coastal Guardian” spend time at the beach during summer weekends to talk to visitors to share the respecting message through personal educational opportunities.
News & Event
Progress Castlecliff’s Coast Care is supported by volunteers from throughout Whanganui, with lots of input from locals. It has regular support from Ideas Services, Aranui and Castlecliff schools and also Whanganui High School’s overseas students. Most recently funding has been received from Department of Conservation (DOC), Whanganui District Council (WDC), Horizons Regional Council, Castlecliff Community Trust and Ian and Jacqui McGowan. We also has received significant financial and in-kind support from The Gift Trust (Tai Shan Environmental Fund), Belton Smith & Associates, Castlecliff 4-Square and Tahu drinks. In addition, we have had the kind support of Parnell’s Nursery and the community, as well as tree mulch from Treetruck.
There are 400 to 500 native trees added to the rear dunes each winter and 700 Spinifex and Pingoa sand binders were planted last year to demonstrate how to stabilise sand dune blowouts. This year, 2021, Coastcare will have 300 Pingoa and 1300 Spinifex to plant for foredune stabilisation.
There are opportunities for everyone to contribute. Organising funding and planting days; cooking for fund raising events, helping in the kitchen at Community planting days through to hard physical work planting on the big dunes.
It’s always very rewarding/fulfilling. And it’s fun.
If you love plants, the environment and working with a friendly community of like minded people, contact us.
Graham 063441012 firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos supplied by Karina Hunt, Bruce Tonkin and Simon Hoyle of Southlight.