Piako Catchment Forum

Catchment Community Group

Catchment area

Regions: Waikato/BoP, Matamata-Piako

We primarily work in the upper Hauraki Plains in the Piako, and Waitoa River Catchments which start near Te Miro and Piarere. We also are linked to areas of the Waitoa Catchment north of Tirau where the Waitoa River runs below the Kaimais along the Hauraki Plains. 


Deforestation has occurred across New Zealand but has been particularly profound in the Matamata-Piako Region where less than 2% of original lowland forest remains. This region is nationally important as all the major rivers drain into the Hauraki Gulf, which is home to over one million people along its shores and on its islands. This is the context under which the Piako Catchment Forum (PCF) was founded. The forum began in 2016 with a few farmers, a planter, a teacher, and Waikato Regional Council staff member sitting around a bar leaner in Morrinsville with the idea of restoring native forest and biodiversity into a region that has historically received very little restoration attention. The other main goal of this forum was to unite farmers, businesses, passionate individuals, council and the wider community to engage with nature, water quality, and restoration. This is critical now more than ever with the concurrent biodiversity and climate change crises we face.

To expand the scope of the work we are able to undertake a few Piako Catchment Forum members have established the Piako Waihou Catchment Charitable Trust which will serve as the financial umbrella for the forum. Our vision and approach to restoration is to create forever forests that through natural regeneration will survive and store carbon in perpetuity. We begin the restoration process by following the Bradley method and working from the good to the bad. That means we start by restoring existing forest fragments that have established canopy cover (often 150-year-old Kahikatea) but may be overrun with weeds and have little understorey development. You cannot replace time. By restoring these forest fragments first, we ensure their resilience and capacity to serve as a seed source for the wider region. We also work with farmers to retire wet, unproductive areas of land and convert them into wetlands which are an increasingly threatened ecosystem type and home to an array of threatened species such as swamp maire (Syzgium maire) and the Matuku (Australasian bittern). These types of restoration project require a commitment to maintenance and enrichment planting for up to 10 years until the wetland or forest system can become more self-sustaining.