The Waikato region was once filled with pristine lakes and wetlands leading to rich biodiversity and an abundance in native fish and bird life with in and around these areas.
Located on the true west side of the Waikato River adjacent to Ohinewai, Lakes Rotongaro and Rotongaroiti sit on the back yard of the Kerr family property. Lance Kerr and his family have been involved in work to improve the margins of both Rotongaro and Rotongaroiti lakes while also farming 229 hectares of dairy and dry stock. The Kerr family purchased the dairy unit in 2005 and have been maintaining invasive species such as gorse and blackberry on the lake fringes every year.
Since becoming a successful applicant for WRA funding Lance has been able to work in collaboration with the Waikato Regional Council and employ local business Te Whangai Trust. A key to the success of this project Lance says is sharing knowledge with others to get to the end result. This four year project and collaborative approach has led to over 31,000 native plants planted, 1.5 kilometres of fencing and 4 hectares of retired land from grazing.
Lance says the drive for this initiative into riparian restoration for the lakes was to promote and maintain healthy and sustainable farming.
“I want my farm to be a sustainable one, plus me and my wife like planting too”.
Among the challenges throughout the project for Lance is the water levels during planting.
“The water levels in the lake can change so quickly, within days the lake could drop by a metre and vice versa” he says.
Lake water levels is one of many challenges that Lance has had to overcome but Lance is determined to see the lake margins improved and to continue doing his part.
“It’s my responsibility to leave my mark and leave this land better then what it was” he says.
A bonus for the project is that native birds, Kereru and Tui have found their way to the lake thanks to the new riparian plantings creating a food source.
This project is a great example of a farm owner taking control in an effort to help improve the ecological environment with in and around our lakes.