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Water Celery and other Pests

January 26th, 2024

Waitītiko Meola has a new weed infestation: water celery or Helosciadium nodiflorum

Here are some facts on water celery, and some actions we can take. The picture below is in Watea Reserve – the long tubular stem on the left, and there are some leaves. Better photos are in the articles below.

New Zealand Plant Conservation Network is an excellent reference point for natives and weeds. See what it says at

It appears it sprouts from both seeds and shoots in the soil.  In our catchment is already found at:

  • the wetland at Watea Reserve. 
  • the wetland on Roy Clements treeway (RCT) 
  • Meola Creek behind Waiorea recycling centre 
  • on a meander near Moa Reserve in Point Chevalier

Weedbusters NZ is normally an excellent source for pest plant eradication, but it doesn’t list it.  While it has been a problem in Wellington and Nelson, it is new in Auckland it seems. And it likes wetlands.

Landcare are planning to find some biological controls, which gives some hope in the long term… (Thanks to Christina Robertson for reference)

If we look on pest database for Auckland, it is also not listed there. This means Auckland Council doesn’t yet officially recognise it, which can mean weed removal is more difficult. However we have spoken with Auckland Council who expect to undertake some work soon.

Fortunately the Auckland Council (AC)10 year plan is also being finalised and we the public can submit that water celery and other emergent pests should be added. Using words like “environmental weeds”, “emergent pest plants” etc should help retain the Biodiversity targeted rate which funds pest plant removal amongst many other priorities.

The dates for input to AC 10 year plan are 28 February to 28 March 2024. We urge all STEPS members to put in a personal submission at   which already shows the Mayoral Proposal so we can start reading now! 

Other key points for submitters relate to the retention of the Water Quality Targeted Rate, which is funding the pipes which connect local waste water pipes to the new Central Interceptor. It’s a critical piece of work if the hundred thousand residents in Meola catchment are to gain some reductions in waste water pollution. In our submission we will mention “stream restoration” and “water quality” as key concerns.

Sponge City – Tamaki Makaurau

August 28th, 2023

Many families in Tamaki Makaurau Auckland are still suffering from Anniversary Day floods and other weather events early this year. Our thoughts are with them.

Meola Creek flooding behind Mt Albert Grammar School 29 January 2023

Auckland Council (AC) has come up with some immediate responses such as “blue-green networks”:

STEPS supports AC’s responses. However something much more holistic is required. Recently the Helen Clark Foundation produced a report on Sponge Cities. For people to survive all the future weather events more safely, we need more absorbent cities and fewer concrete, bitumen and hard surfaces. This is becoming more and more important as Government and Council infill our stream catchments in response to the housing crisis.

Sponge cities are more like Tamaki Makaurau in 1800 – with wetlands and plenty of space for rivers to reach the sea. Some of our parks already hold wetlands which slow the course of fresh water to the sea, helping limit flooding of homes. See the restored wetlands on Roy Clements Treeway for example.

In the report below they even suggest that constructed wetlands can replace sewage treatment plants using natural and biological processes to provide the same kind of services. This approach would certainly avoid the conundrum we are now in with Mangere Wastewater plant being exposed to higher tides as the effects of climate change continue to bite us.

The Sponge Cities report puts the work that other cities world wide have already done, and show how well it works in reducing flooding, improving water quality and sequestering carbon. The Link to the report is on the Helen Clark Foundation’s publications page at

Congratulations to the Foundation for bringing such important work to Aotearoa. Auckland could benefit by adopting it right now. We urge Mayor Brown and Auckland Council to work in conjunction with iwi and Government to make Tamaki Makaurau a sponge city,


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