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Hayley and Geoff Clayton Kaipara Hills – Kaipara Moana Remediation

The People behind Kaipara Moana Remediation (KMR)

Hayley and Geoff Clayton – Kaipara Hills, Auckland

Hayley and Geoff Clayton have only been on their 135-hectare Kaipara Hills property since 2021, but they are determined to boost the environmental outcomes of the property.

They have aligned themselves with the Kaipara Moana Remediation Programme as a ‘Navigator’ project, whereby they are putting in place an ecological restoration plan by excluding stock from rivers and streams, retiring some of the farm’s steepest land, and undertake restoration planting to reduce sediment losses into the Kaipara Moana.

The couple are doing so by undertaking large scale fencing of gullies, waterways, wetlands and highly erodible hillsides. They planted out 15,000 natives in partnership with KMR in 2023, in addition to 2,000 mānuka generously donated by Comvita as part of the New Zealand company’s support for Cyclone-affected landowners.

The Claytons had previously funded the planting of 5,000 natives in 2022, alongside 1,000 natives that same year which were funded by KMR through the Forest Bridge Trust. KMR also funded a substantial amount of fencing in 2022.

Thanks to KMR’s 2023 winter Flood and Cyclone Recovery Fund damaged planting and fencing has been replaced, expanded or relocated to help reduce risk from future adverse weather events, , as the Clayton’s began working towards retiring around 80ha of their farmland in years to come.

The couple appreciate the immense support they have received from the KMR team and Forest Bridge Trust. They are also grateful for the generosity of KMR’s a third-party commercial co-investor Comvita which partnered with KMR to gift the Clayton’s those 2000 mānuka in the aftermath of the 2023 storms to plant on the worst affected of the slip faces to help stabilise the now fragile land.

“KMR has been fundamental in helping us to work towards achieving our goal of nurturing our land back into an ecologically diverse farm,” the pair say.

“Post-Cyclone Gabrielle, which was an incredibly stressful and devastating event, KMR were there to not only reinstate fencing that we had lost but provide support and funding for how we could address and remedy the massive number of land slips we had suffered. We are incredibly grateful for our partnership with KMR and The Forest Bridge Trust, and the additional support from Comvita.”

But it was the heavy rains over Auckland Anniversary weekend that started the immense damage to their hillsides. After receiving 185mm of rain in just five hours on 27 January 2023, dozens of slips appeared all over their property – many of them substantial in size.

“We lost 1.5km of fencing and raceways. Sink holes appeared which were pre-cursors to more slips when Gabrielle hit. As I was driving home through my paddocks, I could see the slips coming down above me,” say Geoff.

Despite the storm damage, Hayley and Geoff say their gameplan was always to retire marginal hillsides and they are grateful that the KMR Navigator project is helping fast-track that plan. And they are looking forward to planting out larger slips with a mix of natives and 1,360 Tasmanian Blackwoods. One of the major slips will end up with more than 1,000 Blackwoods alone and that area will become a permanent forest. From 2024 on, thousands more natives will be planted on the property, along with a handful of Oaks.

Having grown up in Kaukapakapa, Geoff says he always had a leaning towards plants and natives.

“Despite the damage to the farm, we love it here because the property has so much going for it. Where else could we go to create this satisfaction of giving back to the land and the environment. We love the concept of that we will be leaving our children with something that is doing good for the planet,” the couple say.

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