22 June 2016

Fresh air, good company and great beaches are just some of the rewards that Coast Care volunteers can reap from helping out with a few hours of dune planting on a Sunday morning.

“This week’s National Volunteer Week theme of ‘make time’ absolutely applies to dune planting days,” said Coast Care co-ordinator for the western Bay of Plenty, Paul Greenshields.

“Whether you turn up once or turn up weekly, every little bit of time that Bay of Plenty residents can give to Coast Care will help keep the dunes intact.  Native dune plants help to bind sand onto the beach and stabilise the dunes. Healthy dunes can better protect our coastal roads, properties and wildlife habitat from wind and wave erosion. It also creates more beach area for people to enjoy,” he said.

Mr Greenshields said that anyone able to walk on the beach can help out at a Coast Care working bee. Working bees are held at different Bay of Plenty locations on most weekends throughout June and September. Details and contacts are updated regularly at www.boprc.govt.nz/coastcareevents.

Upcoming dates include Sunday 26 June, near Ōmanu or at Pio Shores, and Saturday 2 July at Pukehina Beach. A new group is being formed for Pāpāmoa Beach with their first working bee scheduled for 24 July.

“We usually start mid-late morning. It takes about two hours, and volunteers are rewarded with a cuppa and a muffin afterwards. Parents are welcome to bring their children along. All you need to bring is covered sturdy footwear, clothing suitable for the weather and gardening gloves. Your favourite spade is optional,” Mr Greenshields said.

For committed regulars such as the Pio Shores Coast Care Group at Waihī Beach, extra rewards such can be achieved. They received the 2016 Best Coastal Community Group award from the Dune Restoration Trust of New Zealand earlier this year.

Pio Shores volunteer Graham Parker said he’s enjoyed seeing the dunes improve after 15 years of effort to clear gorse and plant nearly 10,000 native plants.

“We each do our bit and collectively we’ve made a real difference,” Mr Parker said.

The Coast care programme is delivered through a partnership between Bay of Plenty Regional Council, four coastal district and city councils (Western Bay of Plenty, Tauranga, Ōpōtiki and Whakatane) and Department of Conservation. Find out more at www.boprc.govt.nz/coastcare

Chris Ward, Coast Care contractor at Omanu beach September 2015 Pio Shores Dune care group