Okarito Community Highlight


19 April 2021

Congratulations to the Okarito community for their achievement in working together to make a difference to the environment that they are living and working in every day.

With about 90 unique voluteers from around NZ working through the week of 22 – 27 March, doing about 335 volunteer days contributed to the project, they have treated 19km of shoreline around the lagoon for gorse, weeds and rubbish, with a massive amount of additional hard work done in the saltmarsh, low wetland islands and creek delta’s of the lagoon, that offer great whitebait breeding grounds and bird habitat.

Organiser Barry Hughes, says:

“About 110kg of Picloram-based herbicide was used to paint the stumps of gorse plants through the week – manufacturer’s advice suggests this is enough to treat about 26,000 gorse trees with a 20mm diameter. Given that one tree cut had a diameter in excess of 400mm, we’ll maybe settle for claiming 25,950 gorse trees and one prehistoric monster.

Rubbish – but pleasingly, not a great deal – was also cleared from around the areas we worked; a couple of other invasive weeds or trees like Tutson or willows treated or identified to be dealt with later.

This project wouldn’t have been possible without the huge help we got from local bach owners and the Okarito community, who accommodated all the volunteers that gave up their time to travel here from all around the country and help out. The local families and farmers who provided food from both the pantry or paddock or Te Runanga o Makaawhio who supported the project from the start and provided kai. Organisations like DOC and DWC pulled every string they could to get news out there and supplies organised.

We’d like to thank the many West Coast businesses who gave generous support though goods and services.

The plan is to survey this area in November when any remaining gorse should be flowering, to easily identify what we’ve missed; we’ve got what we can but are realistic there’s more to do.”

They hope to be back next year to tackle this pest further so follow them on their Facebook page.

Photo Supply Credit – Barry Hughes, Okarito Gorsebusters