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Hohepa Hawke’s Bay has been awarded nearly $175,000 from the Government’s Community Environment Fund to restore and increase a wetland adjacent to the Taipo Stream in Napier, Associate Minister Scott Simpson announced today.

Hohepa Hawke’s Bay is owned by the Hohepa Homes Trust, which has provided homes, education and vocational services in Hawke’s Bay to people with intellectual disabilities since 1957.

“The wetland is an important natural habitat for many native and endangered species. The two-year Lower Taipo Stream Environmental Enhancement project will increase the wetland by at least 6 hectares, providing additional habitat for the nationally endangered matuku or Australasian bittern,” Mr Simpson says.

“Planting appropriate streambank grass plantings and other vegetation and creating better streambank slopes will improve in-stream conditions, including lower water temperature from greater shading, and provide habitat preferred by whitebait, keeping eggs moist and protected from UV light.

“The project aims to increase public awareness of the importance of preserving our precious wetland habitat. Information kiosks and interpretive signage will be located at strategic points along the proposed wetland zone. Local school children will be involved in the wetland development and use the opportunity to learn about practical environmental enhancement.

“The Lower Taipo Stream Environmental Enhancement project will also provide paid and voluntary work opportunities for up to 25 people with intellectual disabilities, who will be involved in land preparation, pest control, collecting seeds and growing eco-sourced native plants, planting, care and maintenance of the wetland.”

The project will work closely with iwi, regional councils, the Department of Conservation and landowners throughout the region in undertaking the environmental protection and restoration work. Lotteries, Fonterra and the Department of Conservation have provided the project with additional financial support.

“This is a great undertaking by Hohepa Hawke’s Bay, creating a win-win opportunity through preserving natural habitat for endangered species, raising New Zealanders’ awareness of environmental issues and supporting people with intellectual disabilities in our local community.”

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