Trust focuses on protecting habitat

Members of Otokia Creek and Marsh Habitat Trust and volunteers, (from left) Dennis Kahui, Andy...
Members of Otokia Creek and Marsh Habitat Trust and volunteers, (from left) Dennis Kahui, Andy Hutcheon, Heath Rattan and Kris Mullen work on riparian planting of native trees and shrubs at the weekend. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Protecting and preserving the Otokia Creek catchment near Brighton is the focus of the newly formed Otokia Creek and Marsh Habitat Trust.

Trustees Viktoria Kahui, Simon Laing, and Andy Hutcheon attended last week’s Saddle Hill Community Board meeting to share their aims and request funding support for riparian (waterside) planting.

Mrs Kahui told the board that the trust was comprised of landowners next to the Otokia Creek, who aimed to protect the creek catchment and wetland with native plantings, improve amenities, and educate the public.

"Our aim it to not only conserve the habitat, but to benefit the people of Brighton — we want to be able to provide access, so people can utilise it."

Trustee Simon Laing told the community board that the trust had engaged experts to help create a wetland preservation plan.

And, along with native plantings, the trust was working on "tidying up" some existing informal walking tracks, and was talking with fellow landowners about fencing and de-stocking near the creek.

"We are keen to be as open and collaborative as possible — we have the luxury of consensus at the moment, and we want to maintain that," Mr Laing said.

Responding to a request for funding from the trust, the Saddle Hill Community Board agreed to provide a one-off $500 grant towards the purchase of native plants for the project.

Speaking to The Star, trustee Andy Hutcheon said the Otokia Creek and wetland meandered through his 21ha property on McIntosh Rd.

Having lived with it for the past 12 years, Mr Hutcheon felt a special fondness for the creek, which was home to several species of native fish and eels.

"It has been in the back of my mind for a while that we should be trying to do more to preserve the creek, and so have the other trustees."

As the Otokia Creek actually rose within the Dunedin City Council’s proposed landfill site at Smooth Hill, the landfill plan was of concern to the trust.

"As a trust, we feel we are an affected party, as there is a perceived threat to the creek — if there was any leakage from the landfill, it would go into the creek," Mr Hutcheon said.

And as Otokia Creek flowed into the sea at Brighton Beach — and was popular with children in summer — it could impact on the public, he said.

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