Te Matai Ripia Awa Reforestation Project

Executive Summary

Te Matai Whenua are a Māori Ahu Whenua Trust who are Kaitiaki of 8,580 acres of indigenous forests, situated in the Upper Mohaka River and Ripia catchments. Strong local partnerships with Department of Conservation (DOC), Hawkes Bay Regional Council (HBRC), Unison and other economic development agencies focus on sustainable economic development on Te Matai land.
In February 2017 a fire burnt 82 hectares of established native forest. Identifying support towards re-establishing and stabilising the biodiversity of the area also includes partial reforestation of the area with Mānuka. The cost of stage one of this initiative is expected to be approximately $65,000.
Planting of Mānuka will ensure that the area continues to be a rich source of Mānuka honey, supporting an established industry with no detrimental environmental impact and increasing the financial return of previously underutilized Māori land.
This planting program will help stabilise the negative environmental effects that can occur in this catchment including soil erosion and silt build up in the river which could impact on communities downstream if no action is taken. It will improve the regeneration of the Ngahere.
Stage 1 of project is planting 15,000 trees which will contribute to the goal of 1 billion trees, most importantly it will help stabilise the Upper Ripia and Mohaka catchments and improve biodiversity in this area.

One Billion Trees

The goals of the program include planting to diversify income, invest in the future, tackle environmental issues like erosion, improve water quality, moderate river flows and provide important habitats for a range of native species as well as creating jobs.1 This project is ready to begin and is one which meets all the goals listed above.


This project is a partnership project between Te Matai, the land owners, the Department of Corrections, who are managing the seedlings, and potentially the HBRC. It is one of several Te Matai development projects focused on increasing economic benefits from currently underutilized Māori land. Previous projects included the establishment of the Waiokaka lodge on the Mohaka awa, the establishment of the Pou 2017 in partnership with HBRC. The Pou recognises the past and signifies a change for Te Matai and their aspirations towards a new beginning.
Further projects include the development of further accommodation options at the Waiokaka site, a bridge across the Mohaka and the development of a Wilderness lodge. Potential partners on the programs include DOC, Unison, HBRC and other government agencies and is currently supported by Hawkes Bay Māori Tourism.

Replanting the damaged area

A plan to replant 60 hectares unfolds in two stages, 15,000 trees in winter 2018 and further planting of 20,000 trees in 2019/2020. While the size of the block indicates that high density planting (4,400 trees per ha) is ideal for erosion control we plan to plant these trees in small blocks close to the remaining vegetation which will protect existing regenerating growth rather than cover the whole slope at this stage.
It is proposed to plant Mānuka as it is well established in the area and hardy and has wider benefits than other native options. Mānuka grows well in locations it has grown before as there will be a good seedbed. It will already have the specific fungi (mycorrhiza) in the soil that aids the plant in taking up nutrients.

Economic benefits of Mānuka

Mānuka is one of the hardiest native species thanks to its natural role in bush as a coloniser, growing in bare areas and protecting other species as they grow through it over time. That leads to one of the problems with it – a short lifespan. It requires the opportunity to have continual regrowth, allowing young plants coming through. This replanting will ensure that the Mānuka in this area continues to thrive and contribute to the Mānuka honey industry otherwise the majority of the sites will change species over time.
Mānuka flowers for 6 months from November to March. The honey harvested form this plant is a highly prized crop and leaves can be harvested for tea tree oil in summer. Additional Mānuka plantings will increase the supply of naturally available pollen during spring in the Hawkes Bay. This improves the ability of hives to breed. Bees are integral part of the economy of Hawkes Bay due to both the honey industry and that of other horticultural industries which require pollination in spring. The Mohaka is a working catchment important both to the economy and individual livelihoods. Supporting this planting will aid economic activity and will not undermine the catchment’s natural character and which in itself contributes to the region’s profile. 2
This planting is located close to the site of the planned wilderness lodge and may improve the financial return from the lodge.

Environmental Benefits

Water Quality

The Mohaka River and its extensive tributary system, including the Ripia River, is of “high ecological, cultural, recreational and scenic significance. Outstanding values and characteristics of its upper and mid reaches are recognised by a Water Conservation Order. Over 60% of the catchment remains in native vegetation. Importantly, it is the quality of the whole river system, as well as parts, that is regionally, nationally and, in some respects, internationally valued. Maintaining and, where necessary, enhancing the water quality of the Mohaka is a high priority not just to tangata whenua, river-related businesses, resident communities and recreational users, but to the public who value its existence (even those who don’t often visit).’3 As per the land and water management plan this will ensure that there is no further degradation of water quality, an objective of policy statement 3.16 and support current priority actions on Page 30.4

Land Management

This planting will secure the hillside from erosion, reducing silt build up in the Mohaka River. “Mānuka is ideal for this as in addition to being strong, the roots are also flexible and elastic. The roots not only bind soils to a depth of 0.5 – 1.0m, they also maintain stability by resisting soil movement on slopes. In addition to the action of roots, erosion control is achieved through tree canopy rain interception, reducing the physical impact of rainfall on soil and maintaining a lower soil moisture content”5.
Nationwide annual costs associated with hill country erosion are estimated at $100 million to $150 million from primarily from loss of soil and nutrients, damage to houses, fences, roads, phone and power lines and damage to waterways.6
Heavy rain and other adverse weather events can increase the risk of erosion in the hill country. Erosion leads to flooding, which in turn can devastate downstream farm production and move sediment down the catchment into waterways. Reducing erosion in the upper areas of a catchment is more cost-effective than bearing the cost of flooding and flood-control structures in the lower areas.
It is predicted that climate change will increase the risk and magnitude of extreme weather events.


With the loss of so much of the original native bush cover in Hawke’s Bay, and the damage to existing remnants by pests, stock and climate change, much of the botanical heritage has been diminished.7 Mānuka-dominant vegetation provides habitat for a diverse range of plants, fungi, and animals, particularly invertebrates (moths, beetles, millipedes, spiders, snails, etc.) and are also excellent habitat for native geckos, skinks, and insectivorous birds. 8
Diverse ecosystems are generally more stable and viable than simplistic ones. They are also more interesting and more attractive to native birds, lizards and insects. We will plant the Mānuka in small groups over a succession of years to ensure that it will survive and flourish.
Not all revegetation needs to be planted. Seed sources are handy and the remaining ecosystem will restore itself. Once Mānuka is established it will speed the process by providing instant vegetation and seed sources and attracting birds which bring yet more native seeds, this in turn will encourage the growth of other native trees.
As the proposed plantation site is marginal land, the risk of not replanting there will allow weeds to dominate and pests (rabbits, possums, and goat) may become common. Hence planting reduce weed and pest populations which are likely to increase erosion.

Benefits of Planting for Te Matai

Te Matai nurtured their whanau with kai such as kaka and tuna while providing a place of warmth and comfort as the snow covered the landscape. Although Te Matai lands remain in its natural state, the whenua and wai have been affected by commercial and farming practices which has been detrimental to the biodiversity of the area. The sound of the Kaka and Kiwi are missing and the wairua needs to be returned. As a tohu of the health of the whenua, it is an aspiration of the whanau to hear kaka and kiwi once again. To have a healthy awa that we can swim and drink from. Projects such as this will contribute towards their goals.


This project meets all the objectives of the 1 billion trees program. Planting Mānuka in this area of damaged Whenua will speed its recovery by retaining the slope as well as encouraging and protecting seedlings established by other seed sources. Planting will prevent erosion which will reduce soil loss into the Upper Mohaka. Maintaining water quality and preventing erosion will benefit downstream users and the wider economy by limiting the effects of flooding and silt damage. Planting of Mānuka will ensure that the area continues to be a rich source of Mānuka honey, supporting an established industry with no detrimental environmental impact. Te Matai will deliver stage 1 this winter, at this stage potentially the first tree plant project regionally and nationally.


Boffa Miskell (2017). The Mānuka & Kānuka Plantation Guide. Retrieved from

Forestry New Zealand, (2018). Planting one billion trees. Retrieved from https://www.mpi.govt.nz/funding-and-programmes/forestry/planting-one-billion-trees
Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (2018). Projects – Taharua and Mohaka Catchment. Retrieved from

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, (2018). Hawke’s Bay Land & Water Management Strategy, Pg 23, 30. Retrieved from https://www.hbrc.govt.nz/assets/Document-Library/Strategies/HB-Land-and- Water-Management-Strategy.pdf

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, (2018). Native Plants in Hawke’s Bay. Retrieved from https://www.hbrc.govt.nz/assets/Document-Library/Land-Management/Riparian-Planting- Guide.pdf

Ministry for Primary Industries, (2018). Hill Country Erosion Programme. Retrieved from https://www.mpi.govt.nz/funding-and-programmes/forestry/sustainable-land- management-and-hill-country-erosion-programme

Stevens, J (2013). Planting Mānuka for honey production. Conference presentation.
Retrieved from http://www.treesforbeesnz.org/news/events/trees-for-bees-conference/tfb- conference-presentations/planting-Mānuka

thisNZlife (2018). What to consider when planting manuka. Retrieved from http://thisnzlife.co.nz/consider-planting-manuka/


Appendix One: Cost of Project

Ripia Reforestation Project Stage 1 15,000 trees  
Planting Project Costs  

Cost per unit ($)


Total Cost ($)













Pest Protection/Weed Mat








Trailer hire 3 full day hires




Petrol 2 round trips per ute






Helicopter Costs


Crew in and Out


Trees cost per pallet





Tree Planting






Project Management and Planning








Stage 1 we plan to plant a further 20,000 trees next winter
Packaging based on purchase of 100 boxes
Price if purchase 250 trees drops to $6