• Incremental Change Agency

How a local restoration project is inspiring advocacy for best development practice

Judy McKoy has lived in Plimmerton for 37 years.

From her balcony to the left you can see the Plimmerton Farm hills shining in the distance.

“These hills are so special to me. For years they have defined this place as a backdrop to the

beautiful local beaches where we all swim, kayak and generally have fun. Knowing how the

proposed urban development may impact on this area continues to disturb me. Sadly, I know that development on rural land is inevitable. However, advocating for best outcomes is what we are all able to do. The potential clearing of trees, levelling of steep land, filling in waterways and changes planned for currently connected ecosystems is what concerns us. All the water from that land flows into the local Taupo Swamp wetlands and out onto our beach. There is so much at stake here,” she said.

Judy co-founded Friends of Taupo Swamp and Catchment (FOTSC) with another Plimmerton local, Bill McAulay, two years ago (pictured above). They now have a committed group of hundreds of volunteers and have formed partnerships with several other organisations including Greater Wellington Regional Council, QEII National Trust, Department of Conservation, Conservation Volunteers Wellington, Porirua City Council, NZMCA and Forest and Bird.

“It has been so heartening to see how much the community cares about this restoration project. In particular, the young people who have come and wanted to be part of it. Initial planning began in 2018 when Porirua City Council agreed to allow FOTSC to move forward with a five year restoration project on around 13 hectares of Council owned wetlands. After much clearing of invasive weeds, pest and plant control plans have been put into practice, and the first of some 10,000 eco sourced wetland plants are now in the ground. As this area in within a ‘key native ecosystem’ FOTSC actively works with its partners to ensure that all plants are appropriate and are locally sourced. Raising the funds for that (via grants and donations) is very much part of we do,” Judy said.

Since the start of the restoration project, proposals for the urban development of the adjacent Plimmerton farmland have become a hot topic of local and national conversation. "How can we all ensure that the connected waterways of the Taupo Swamp network (parts of which lie on that land) are safeguarded now and in perpetuity? We want future generations to be proud of what we do now! We are busy connecting with all our interest groups and followers, urging them to have their say as to how best we can advocate for what might be lost by this potential development. This is urgent, this is our last chance

and submissions close 2 July," she said.

As one of the volunteers, Thomas, from their weeding day on 6 June shared, “when we grow up we want to be able to have plants and spaces where native plants grow. By starting now when we are older these places will be fully grown. We wanted to do something that would help our future because the future has an unlimited amount of possibilities but to make those happen we need to be part of it.”

To learn more about this project, how you can become involved, and how you can advocate for best practice development you can visit their website at www.tauposwamp.org.