What started as a plan for locals to clear space so they could access the waterways in the Waiuku Estuary turned into a monumental community project resulting in thousands of tonnes of mangroves being cleared.
On 21 September, Deputy Mayor and Franklin Ward Councillor Bill Cashmore helped fell the final remaining plants from the foreshore. He was joined by local MP Andrew Bayly and watched by volunteers from the Waiuku Estuary Restoration Trust, Franklin Local Board members, residents, Auckland Council staff and media.
Members of the trust, otherwise known as the Mudlarks, have consistently worked over the last nine years to systematically cull the unsightly mangroves from around the estuary.
The group of mostly retirees have put in a combined 45,321 man-hours to remove an estimated 24.6 hectares of mangroves equalling 3075 tonnes.
Councillor Cashmore says seeing what the estuary looked like prior to the mangroves growing was a big motivator for him to get involved.
“After seeing the photos of what it was like, I thought why couldn’t it be like that again.”
Franklin Local Board chair Angela Fulljames says the board has been a proud supporter of the Waiuku Estuary Restoration Trust, having provided close to $200,000 in grants for this project, and are pleased to see them finally reach their goal.
“The board is committed to empowering local communities to get on with achieving their aspirations.
"And thanks to these amazing volunteers, we have been able to find a cost-effective solution to ensuring the mangroves were removed,” she says.
Removing the mangroves required special consent from Auckland Council and this was achieved thanks to help from Councillor Cashmore and the Franklin Local Board.
Councillor Cashmore says getting this project consented by the council ensures other groups wanting to undertake similar projects will have an easier time getting approval.
“We’ve paved the way to change things in how Auckland Council operations are done, not only in the environment but in consenting.”