Coastal restoration projects given a boost

plant delivery Pāuanui beach
© Pāuanui Dune Protection Society
Success Story

WWF is proud to be supporting two coastal restoration projects this year through the Community Conservation Fund.

Biodiversity Hawke’s Bay has received a grant to restore a stretch of shingle beach in Napier by rebuilding and revegetating native plants endemic to the area.

Known as Te Taha - and locally referred to as “the Gap” - this area is a small and precious remnant of the shingle beach and dune ecosystem which was once widespread in Napier.

It is also home to the nationally vulnerable native shrub known as Pimelia xenica. The community group is working to reduce the risk of this plant - and others - going extinct by revegetating the site, removing weeds, exotic species and rabbits, and planting other indigenous species to enhance the biodiversity of the area.

The project site has been divided into zones with different community groups ‘adopting’ an area. Groups involved include the local Westshore Residents’ and Development Association, Napier Forest & Bird and the Rotary Club of Ahuriri Sunrise. Plants are being grown from seeds taken from the original site to be planted throughout the year, with ongoing weeding to be done monthly by the community groups, bringing people together to restore this significant area. The mahi is already having a positive impact on this special site.

Further north, the Pāuanui Dune Protection Society has received funding from WWF to continue its vital work to re-establish a natural dune at Pāuanui beach on the Coromandel.

Coastal dunes are a feature of many New Zealand beaches and provide natural protection from coastal erosion and flooding by acting as a natural buffer during storms. As we continue to experience the effects of climate change and climate-related disasters, this becomes even more important.

Over the last three years the Dune Protection Society has been working to restore the dunes at the south end of Pāuanui, where severe storms in 2020 and 2021 had caused bad erosion.  Their goal is to create a sustainable dune system that will naturally rebuild following severe storms, not only for today’s visitors, but also for the benefit of generations to come. In total, around 1,300 metres of dunes have been restored since the project began.

Just last month, fifty volunteers spent two days planting more than 12,000 native dune grasses across four sites along the beach.  This mammoth effort saw volunteers replanting the recently reshaped eroded dune face along the southern end of the beach to develop a more natural shape – and also marked the beginning of the group’s efforts to transform the weed-infested upper dune areas of the beach to a functioning natural dune environment.

Looking ahead, the team will be working to restore around 200 metres of severe erosion caused by Cyclone Gabrielle and restore weed infested dunes across the rest of the beach.