More than 60 people participated in last year’s planting day at Okorewa Lagoon. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

ELI HILL
eli.hill@age.co.nz

A group working to return Okorewa Lagoon to its former glory is calling for volunteers to help with planting native shrubs and grasses.

Tucked in around the corner from the Lake Ferry Hotel, the lagoon is a small, but significant piece of natural history.

The area was once the site of a little fishing village called Okorewa, at the mouth of the Ruamahanga River.

When waterflows through the area were diverted in the 1950s as part of the Lower Wairarapa Valley Diversion Scheme, the natural biodiversity of the area was lost.

The South Wairarapa Biodiversity Group will host the seventh annual planting day at the lagoon on May 26.

Volunteers are asked to bring gloves, a spade, something to drink, and appropriate clothing for a winter’s day.

Food and refreshments will be provided.

The planting event has grown in recent years. Last year, it attracted 60 people who planted more than 2000 native shrubs and grasses in the area surrounding the lagoon.

While growing conditions could be brutally harsh at times, organiser Jane Lenting said the plantings are starting to have a positive impact.

The group was not trying to turn back the clock. It wanted to ensure that the natural flora and fauna could once again flourish, which would also help improve water quality in the lagoon.

While this was a challenging site because of occasional flooding, Lenting said there was huge potential for improving the environment.

Greater Wellington Regional Council was supporting the planting days as part of the Wairarapa Moana Wetlands Project.

The Department of Conservation and the Sustainable Coastlines Charitable Trust would assist with volunteers and logistics on the day.

SWBG’s most recent initiative is Predator Free Martinborough, which aims to have as many residents as possible actively trapping rats and other pests on their own properties.

To find out more about the planting day or any other SWBG initiative, contact Jane Lenting on swbg@xtra.co.nz