The Mokihi Trust was formed in early 2016 after a series of public meetings of people interested in ecological restoration in and around Cromwell. A scoping study was carried out during 2015 to gauge the interest in forming a group similar to the highly successful Te Kākano group in Wanaka. This study was funded by Te Kākano (Maori for “The Seed”) via a generous grant from the Central Otago Pinot Noir Charitable Trust - a Central Otago Winegrowers initiative that supports local community groups.
The name Mokihi was selected for the Cromwell based group as it is the Maori word for a flax raft. This suitably ties in with one of the aims of Te Kakano of floating “The Seed” down the Clutha River (Mata-Au) to downstream communities interested in native habitat restoration. Interestingly, the first European to arrive in the Upper Clutha and Cromwell areas in September 1953 was Nathanael Chalmers, who after falling ill was floated down the Clutha in a Mokihi by his Maori guides.
Mike Barra – Chairperson
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The Mokihi Trust aims to restore and establish pockets of indigenous biodiversity in Cromwell and surrounding areas, and in particular the Lake Dunstan shoreline. It endeavours to motivate and educate the community in sustainable ecological restoration so as to enhance and restore Cromwell's indigenous ecosystems for now and future generations.
A landscape ecologist identified a site at Richards Beach as being suitable for ecological restoration with a range of habitats present.
The visible and highly used public site is located on the edge of the Kawarau Arm of Lake Dunstan on the Cromwell to Bannockburn pathway. The site is near a public car park to access the pathway and was overgrown by exotic weed species with some native species identified but struggling to compete.
A list of suitable species was selected and the inaugural planting day was held on May 21 with 21 volunteers planting 160 plants. A further planting of 80 plants was undertaken on July 16 involving 14 people. The native plants have been positioned amongst the existing vegetation which will provide shelter from wind and sun and will assist in the plants establishment. Rabbit netting has been installed around vulnerable plants and a water system is being devised for the summer dry period.
In future, the exotic vegetation will be slowly removed and the native plants will provide habitat for native fauna.
The landscape plan for Richards Beach allows for considerable more plantings and it will be some years before the site is fully developed to the extent of the plan.
Supporters Te Kākano Aotearoa Trust, Haehaeata Natural Heritage Trust and the Otago Polytech.