Fred Tai, 15, of Masterton, who is involved in the land-based training programme at Nga Kanohi Marae in Masterton. PHOTO/JIM FLACK

The restoration of one of Wairarapa’s scenic reserves is under way after a community planting day saw 1500 plants given life in the sand dunes.

Castlepoint’s Scenic Reserve was swarmed by volunteers on Saturday to help plant 1000 spinifex and 500 pingao.

High volumes of visitors have left the Castlepoint Scenic Reserve in “recovery” mode, according to Department of Conservation ranger Jim Flack.

The native dune system is under pressure from invasive plants such as Marram grass and wear and tear from vehicles, he said.

The 60ha reserve includes the lighthouse, reef, lagoon and Castle Rock.

Castlepoint Residents and Ratepayers Association project manager Neville Zander said it was great to see so many volunteers at the planting day.

The 70-odd volunteers included a group from the Girl Guides, residents and hapu. He hoped to make the community planting day an annual event.

Robin Potangaroa of the Te Hika o Papauma hapu said Castlepoint was originally a free-flowing tidal area between 50 to 70 years ago, which had changed over time.

He said pingao grass holds the dunes together much better than marram grass.

“The pingao makes the dunes much more resilient in rough weather.”

It was also a good-tie in with the treaty settlements process, with Castlepoint Scenic Reserve part of treaty claims by both Ngati Kahungunu and Rangitane iwi, he said.

It was then subject of an overlay classification – effectively meaning it is returned to iwi, but then gifted back to DOC, he said.

“But it means both Ngati Kahungunu and Rangitane have a seat at the table with DOC in managing the reserve.”