The Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) aims to restore the ecological integrity of the spit as habitat for populations of threatened species, and maintain its important coastal ecosystem function. Maketū spit is regionally significant, as it has remained relatively unmodified with indigenous flora species providing habitat for the diverse population of threatened native birds and invertebrates. Pest plants and animals are degrading this unique coastal habitat.
Maketū Spit is 45ha of coastal duneland located at the mouth of Kaituna River. It is 3.5km long and is the most intact coastal dune ecosystem in the Tauranga Ecological District.The spit is crown land, which is owned and administered by Western Bay of Plenty District Council as a Recreation Reserve. Works for the BMP are contained within the Recreation Reserve boundary. There is an adjoining estuary habitat; the Maketū Wildlife Management Reserve. It is administered by the Department of Conservation and will benefit from the BMP. The Department of Conservation are supporting the BMP and Maketū Ongatoro Wetland Society (MOWS) by contributing towards ecological monitoring and pest control costs.
The work on Maketu spit has three main focuses: first we run a year round pest control programme to protect the threatened northern New Zealand Dotterel, Charadrius obscurus, which breed at the eastern end of the spit. We monitor the breeding of this species and have recorded a significant increase in numbers to 15 pairs in 2016. We also run a pest plant control programme which focuses mainly on invasive grasses, and we are gradually removing the pine trees. Our third task is to maintain the dune system by planting native stabilising plants, spinifex and pingao, on the fore dune, and shrubs and trees on the back dune. This work will help to encourage the presence of native birds, invertebrates and skinks.
We have also removed much of the pampas, wattle and gorse along Ford Road, as well as tackling pampas, salt water paspalum and spartina on the sportsfield and along Maketu Road. This work is now in its sixth year and you can see real improvements. Recent plantings by Maketū Kura at the sportsfield are doing well.
A sand spit is a very mobile landform, but we are concerned that the gradual silting up of the harbour is helping to cause a high amount of erosion, as the main channel is forced against the inside of the spit. We have therefore joined with BOPRC to monitor this erosion at the narrowest point so that we can take remedial action should a breakthrough appear to be imminent.