October 25, 2017

Farmer restores whitebait for future generations

Over the past few years Fonterra dairy farmer Stu Muir has been restoring the once stagnant stream on the boundary of his Waikato farm to create 20 whitebait spawning ponds with grasses, flaxes, kahikatia, kowhai, mahoe and other wetland trees.

Main photograph supplied by DairyNZ

“When I saw water quality and whitebait catches dropping, I knew I had to do something. My family has owned this farm for five generations, I went whitebaiting with my grandfather here and I wanted to do the same with my own children,” says Stu.

With numbers of whitebait now increasing, Stu is working to restore other local waterways. He and his extended family have been working on five dune lake restoration projects including Parkinsons Lake which is now fenced to exclude stock and 8,500 native trees have been planted.

Stu has been working with, Ospri, Fish and Game, Acclimatisation Society and locals on a major pest eradication on hundreds of hectares of the lower Waikato River Delta.

“I’ve been using a combination of bait stations and traps and have caught more than 200 ferrets, stoats and weasels so far. It’s great to see that my farm is now home to a number of native bird species including Kereru, Tui, Bittern and the occasional Kaka and Kotuku,” says Stu.

His next goal is to build a bridge to make the wetland more accessible for visiting groups when he is hosting educational tours. Stu has set up a Give-a-little page to help fund that project.

Additional funding for wetland projects comes from Te Papa Eco Cottage – an off-grid luxury eco-cottage on the farm. Stu puts 15% of all profits from the cottage towards wetland restoration projects.