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The floods and storms of February, March and April this year were severe: with 180.000 houses without power in March, let’s hope it is the “30 year storm” and not a regular event. For us at Matuku Link we were ‘only’ without power for five days, which did ruin the Niceblocks we still had (sorry volunteers!) and took out some of our lone manuka and kanuka, but no major damage was done. The Waitakere River rose quickly on all three occasions. In February, it even claimed the lives of two young men tramping near us. The water also took out the bridge at the Auckland City Walk. Driving through the area I noticed that mainly non-natives like pines and poplars, and natives like manuka and kanuka had been hit. The other native trees obviously have adapted over the past million years to such events.

Our former paddocks were turned into wetland at all three occasions, with our eel feeding area being significantly enlarged by the water. The water level doesn’t only rise quickly, it also falls quickly, which you can see in the pictures where the grass is all flattened in one direction. Flaxes don’t have deep roots, so we lost quite a number of them, even big clumps, and Carex Lessonia lived up to its name: with its deep roots it kept the banks in place and bend under the water pressure, but sprang back up as soon as the water was gone. John Sumich’ “Ode to Carex” is a tribute to this amazing sedge:

A plant that lessens bank fragility
Lessoniana ensures stability.

Phormium on the other hand
for riverside planting should be banned.

In plainer language, if you need,
flaxes fail but sedge succeed.

Most images by our voluntary professional photographer Jacqui Geux – thank you!