Govt chips in $9m to restore Mahurangi River to former glory

From left, Kathryn Ashworth, Murray Chapman, Steve Burrett, Peter Thompson, Hugh Gladwell and Marja Lubeck.

High speed travel to Auckland and catching snapper from clean water at the wharf are among the benefits expected from a $9 million Government package for projects in Warkworth.

The Mahurangi River Restoration Trust has been granted $4.06 million by the Ministry of Environment to finish dredging the Mahurangi River.

Trust board member Steve Burrett expects the dredging will be finished by October 2021.

He says once complete, vessels with up to 1.5 metres of draught will be able to traverse the river at all tides, opening the way for high speed ferries to Auckland.

A further $5 million has been awarded to Auckland Council for riparian planting and fencing to prevent sediment building up in the river again.

The projects will be monitored by a ‘reference group’ – a committee comprised of government and external members as well as an independent chair.

The government is hoping that the projects will create 105 new jobs.

The River Restoration Trust has so far removed 12,000 cubic meters of sediment and has 100,000 more to go.

Steve says the money will significantly speed up the dredging process from 100 cubic metres of sediment a day to up to 400.

The removed sediment is taken to a farm halfway down the river where it is compressed to remove the water. It is then spread out and sown with grass.

Steve says ultimately the Trust may employ a second barge, although it is difficult to find vessels of the right specification.

“The grant means we won’t have continual stoppages from the funding running dry,” he says.

Trust board member Peter Thompson says it will also have environmental benefits, providing cleaner water for shellfish beds and allowing fish to stay up stream.

“Thirty years ago you could catch snapper from the wharf. Thanks to the dredging, you will be able to do that again.”

The Mahurangi River projects were chosen from a list of more than 300 projects submitted by regional councils.

“Our committee would like to express our thanks for support from One Warkworth and, in particular, local MP Marja Lubeck who has campaigned diligently with the various ministers,” Steve says.

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