At first glance, a rain garden may look like a regular garden-bed, but it’s actually a complex system that requires technical planning to have a positive impact on our stream health (wai ora), says Wellington City Council Senior Urban Designer Stephanie O’Shea.
“Stormwater run-off from the street is channelled into a rain garden, this water will have a bunch of pollutants in it because it's been capturing the muck on the road from things like vehicles.
As the water goes in, there's a specific soil material layering within the garden, which absorbs pollutants as the water filters through it, cleansing it before it enters the stormwater system.”
As the official pilot for rain gardens in the capital, these gardens are not only special because they’re the first-of-their-kind, but also because of the cultural significance of the Waimapihi Stream that they flow into, and the life that exists within it, says Steph.
The name Waimapihi refers to the waters of Mapihi, a rangatira of Ngai Tara and Ngati Mamoe. It’s known that this Maori chieftainess used to bathe in the waters of the stream, further up the catchment. This stream has seen banded kōkopu, kōura and even Tuna living within its culverted walls today.