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Toitū Te Whenua Parks Network Plan 2020-2030

https://www.gw.govt.nz/toitu-te-whenua-parks-network-plan-2020-2030

Toitū Te Whenua Parks Network Plan 2020-2030

Updated 10 May 2021 11:58am

Toitū Te Whenua Parks Network Plan

Parks are at the heart of communities and part of our environmental, social and economic well-being – so it’s important we take great care of them.

Toitū Te Whenua is the management plan for eight regional parks and forests. Its includes Akatarawa, Battle Hill, Belmont, East Harbour (including the Northern Forest, Baring Head/Ōrua Pouanui and Parangarahu Lakes), Kaitoke, Pakuratahi, Queen Elizabeth and Wainuiomata parks. 

Toitū Te Whenua was approved by Council on 10th December 2020 and provides directions for these parks managed under the Reserves, Local Government and Wellington Regional Water Board Acts.

Plan vision

The Plan’s vision is Restoring healthy ecosystems for the benefit of people and nature’.  He waka eke noa’, we’re all in this together moving forward.

Healthy park environments help ensure we have fresh clean water and air and provide important habitat for birds and animals to thrive. They nurture life through recreation activities, mahinga kai, natural materials and connections with places.

Six core goals set the overall directions for the parks in the Plan. Three are core goals and ongoing; managing natural values, recreation experiences, heritage and landscape. The other three are for particular focus over the next ten years to help achieve significant step-change; working with mana whenua, climate change and sustainability and ‘the way we work’.

The theme of the Plan, ‘everything is connected’ reflects the place of parks within the broader environment, local communities and the regional economy.

Key shifts

When we asked the people of Wellington about what was most valued most about parks and what the key issues and opportunities for change were, we received generous feedback (see links below). This enabled Greater Wellington to develop a Plan based on what the people of Wellington asked for.  The Plan focuses on benefits – for the environment and people.

Toitū Te Whenua’s overall focus and priorities are natural heritage restoration, improving access to and within parks, supporting recreation experiences and working in collaborative ways with others to achieve this.

Restoration of natural heritage

Whilst most areas of park land are in different stages of regeneration of native vegetation, some areas are still grazed by stock. The Plan signals progressive native vegetation and wetland restoration of these areas, approximately 2000 ha. This will deliver multiple benefits (as outlined in the Plan) including supporting biodiversity and freshwater quality, reduced carbon emissions and enhanced recreation experiences. Battle Hill is a farm park by its purpose so farming activities for education purposes will continue here.

Restoration work is being supported by Long Term Plan investment as well as Low Carbon Acceleration Fund work in Kaitoke and Queen Elizabeth parks. This part of Greater Wellington’s Climate Emergency Response Programme. A range of restoration methods will be employed including passive restoration with weed management, such as occurs in most parks now.

Restoration work will be supported by restoration plans, master planning processes, an operational plan for stock removal from parks and fire threat management plans.  Restoration planning and management will encompass  seed sourcing, propagation, planting and weed maintenance for a minimum of three years to support planting success rates. This provides opportunities for community, partner and stakeholder leadership and support. . Greater Wellington is committed to this programme of work with community. 

Improving access to, within and across parks

As a short term action the community has asked Greater Wellington to fully open stock grazed areas of Belmont and Queen Elizabeth Parks. Initial access will be via existing tracks and roads. This will mean year round, easy access to parks.

Other actions for implementation in the Plan include:

  • Ensuring each park has at least one highly accessible experience
  • A new long distance route for walking and riding, the ‘Akatarawa Traverse’ from the Kāpiti coast to Hutt Valley
  • Cross-park routes for commuters and others through Belmont Park from Waihora Cresent, Waitangarua to Hill Road and the Hutt Valley and to Takapu Road, Tawa
  • A bridge new connection over Speedy’s Stream to create easy Belmont park access from the suburb of Kelson
  • Accessibility upgrades in Wainuiomata park including bridge and track work
  • Mountain bike, walking and horse riding trail enhancements

Supporting recreation experiences

Actions in the Plan identify works such as more storytelling to reveal interesting heritage features, trail enhancements, nature play features, working to gain ‘International Dark Sky Park’ status for Wainuiomata Recreation Area’ and developing night sky storytelling. We have defined this type of work in the Plan as ‘key destinations’, local gem places everyone will want to visit!

Master planning (more detailed spatial plans) is a key action in the Plan to develop guidance for native vegetation and wetland restoration work and determine recreation facilities in the grazed areas of parks. This will involve working closely alongside mana whenua, park stakeholders and local communities. Master planning process will involve public consultation. Master plan maps will be added to the parks plan as they are developed.

Working collaboratively - mahi tahi

Greater Wellington is excited about the new plan and its core values and key directions. We are looking forward to working more closely with mana whenua, park groups and local communities to achieve Toitū Te Whenua’s vision. It won’t happen overnight – but it will happen!

Implementing the Plan will be through adjusting business as usual to align with the new directions. Supporting park groups and volunteers, seeking grants and funding partnerships is a big part of this. We will be working with mana whenua to identify dual Te Reo Māori names for parks that don’t have them, establishing collaboration groups for master planning and looking to others to help resource the works in the plan so we can achieve more together.

Monitoring and reporting our progress

To define where we are now and check our progress towards meeting plan outcomes we will undertake a base line ‘state of the parks’ report. We will then periodically monitor our progress towards Plan goals and make adjustments so we know how we are going. Check the Plan for more details.

Plan development background

Toitū Te Whenua was developed based on mana whenua, park stakeholder and general public feedback received during consultation in 2018 and 2020. In feedback we heard wide ranging support for the core directions of the draft Plan and thank all those who submitted and offered suggestions and improvements for our collective guardianship of parks. Consultation information and Council report links are provided here for reference:

Environment Committee reports can also be found here.

For more information about Toitū Te Whenua or parks planning please contact parksplanning@gw.govt.nz.