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HortNZ backs Horowhenua wetland development

8 June 2021

Source: NZ Herald

Horticulture New Zealand is backing the Horowhenua wetland development and further moves to improve Lake Horowhenua’s water quality. 

‘The proposed wetland will create an ecological corridor between Lake Horowhenua and Papaitonga,’ says HortNZ Environment Manager, Michelle Sands. 

‘Creation of the wetland will improve the health of Lake Horowhenua by treating the water that flows into the lake.  The project will create a swamp and forest habitat for birds and fish, echoing the wetlands that were once part of the Horowhenua landscape.

‘The vegetable growing land in the area sits on a terrace of highly fertile soil above the low-lying dairy farm that the wetland will replace.  The water quality treatment function of the wetland will complement what vegetable growers in the area are doing to improvement freshwater quality and reduce environmental impact.’ 

Michelle says HortNZ has been working with vegetable growers in the Horowhenua to finetune development and implementation of Farm Environment Plans to improve growing practices. 

‘These plans document what growers are doing to improve freshwater quality and reduce environmental impact, as well as help growers identify what else they can do to reduce impact. 

‘We see the wetland development as complementing what the growers are doing.  Growers in the area are right behind it, and are pleased that Horizons – with the help of central government funding – has found a way to purchase the dairy farm and get this important initiative off the ground.’ 

Michelle says the idea for the wetland was borne out of iwi, growers and the Levin community coming together, with the support of local, regional and central government. 

‘All these parties are committed to working to together to improve the health of Lake Horowhenua while recognising and seeking to provide for the values associated with the urban and rural land uses within the catchment.[AB1] 

‘Vegetable growing around Levin is vital to New Zealand’s supply of fresh, healthy food.  We need to ensure that there’s plenty of vegetable production near major urban centres to feed a growing population and maintain supply, during severe weather events and any future restrictions due to Covid. 

‘With good urban planning and investment, New Zealand can have both houses and healthy food.  Similarly, with good freshwater planning and investment, New Zealanders can have both healthy fresh vegetables and healthy freshwater.’