Stu Muir and the restoration of Mangati Stream

Dairy Farmer and environmentalist Stu Muir started with a digger, a chainsaw and a vision.

Mangati stream, located south-west of Pukekohe, flows from the Waikato River through the backyard of the Muir family farm. Once thriving and flourishing in an abundance of native fish and bird life, it had become rife with fallen willow, and due to the degradation of the Waikato River over time, the Mangati stream suffered, causing inanga to vanish from the area.

"People thought I was completely pōrangi for trying to do something like this on this scale," says Stu. "But once you create current, once you regenerate what was here in the beginning, then it will keep itself alive".

In 2011, Stu along with a few friends and volunteers began removing fallen willow trunks by hand, which once again allowed inanga access to the stream. "I'd wrap chain around them, and my mate would pull them out with a digger. We'd just do that one by one. We opened up kilometres and kilometres of this stream. Now, any time of the year you come down here, the stream is just full of inanga at different stages of their development."

Today, many different species of native fish and bird life have returned to the area. A boardwalk, built with funding support from the Waikato River Authority, has now made it easier for people to experience the unique environment surrounding Mangati stream. "I thought it was an important way of getting people down here, you know, when you can hear the harakeke rustle in the wind, the sound of all the different manu here, and seeing the fish coming up through the current...that's tangible, and when it's tangible, it sticks with people and resonates with them".

For more about Stu and his restoration journey, check out his brilliant talk at TEDx Ruakura, and the recent story from  NZ Herald - "The man who restored a river".