Pāuanui Dune Planting Project

After a long road of consultation and community engagement, the Pāuanui Dune Planting project is completed.

Pauanui dune planting project 2022

May 2022: More than 200 volunteers planted over 13,000 plants across a 260m length of shoreline at the southern end of Pāuanui beach (approximately between beach access #10 and #11) to increase coastal resilience and enable better management of the reserve space.

This was our biggest and most successful restoration event yet thanks to those involved:

  • The Pāuanui Dune Protection Society
  • The wider Pāuanui community and other volunteers
  • Mercury Bay Environmental Trust
  • Department of Conservation (Whitianga)
  • NZCS
  • Waikato RC
  • CoastCare (Onemana, Waikato)
  • Recreational Services
  • Hikuai School
  • Valley Ed (Thames)
  • Coastlands Nursery
  • Storms Contracting
  • Scotty’s Bobcats

“The weather was fabulous and great community connections were made,” says our Coastal Scientist Jamie Boyle. "The Pāuanui Dune Protection Society helped drive and communicate the need for this work by pulling everyone together and contributing to the design, financing, and rationale of the work.”

The contribution showed understanding for coastal restoration (the CoastCare movement), and the importance of creating, maintaining, and enhancing a resilient dune system.

Over the last two years the shoreline in Pāuanui eroded around 10-15m of foredune due to storm events. Historical restoration was lost to erosion and limited to a narrow width of sand-binding dune plants (such as spinifex and pingao), leaving only grassed reserve.

“We know that grass won’t allow for any rebuilding seaward. Using a scientific approach, the recent planting has achieved a wider area of native plants to accommodate future erosion events and provide enough remaining plants to self-repair,” says Mr Boyle.

Coastal resilience is increased by undertaking community-based coastal restoration with native dune plants, which traps sand and rebuilds (self-repair) seaward following natural erosion events and when available sand comes ashore. This also increases coastal biodiversity and the capacity to cope with disturbances, induced by factors such as sea level rise, extreme events, and human impacts, by adapting whilst maintaining their essential functions.

A couple of things to highlight regarding the recent works: 

  • Native dune plants won’t prevent erosion; however, they will allow for rebuilding seaward following calmer conditions. 
  • We have intentionally not planted all the way down the new foredune to allow for any (expected) erosion during winter. We know this is where the previous dune toe (see image below) was, and susceptible to future wave erosion. It is anticipated that during calmer conditions that the spinifex and pingao will naturally grow down the foredune face and trap any windblown sand during summer.  
  • The windbreak fences are put up to help trap any windblown sand to help the new plants flourish. They also provide protection from foot traffic and help keep sand from blowing onto the reserve. These will be removed and replaced with bollards after approximately one year.  
  • The grassed reserve behind the dune plants will be cleared of sand and debris, then prepped for organic fertilizer and seeding work to be done in September 2022.  

Previous dune toe

As result of the success of this event and incorporating sound science, the Pāuanui Dune Protection Society and our Council intend to broaden the scope of this work further north and south of the project area. This will include developing a regular dune maintenance program and we would like your continued support in this space. Please contact TCDC at ourcoast@tcdc.govt.nz or the Pāuanui Dune Protection Society at info@pauanuidunes.org.nz for further information or to register as a member of the society.