Boost for rural community hub and catchment group projects in South Canterbury

Agriculture Rural Communities

Community resilience and land management best-practice in South Canterbury will be bolstered through the Government’s backing of two farmer-led projects, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today.

“We’re investing $610,000 over three years in the Hakataramea Sustainability Collective to support landowners in the Hakataramea Valley to farm more sustainably and help improve community wellbeing,” Damien O’Connor said.

“Our goals across New Zealand are to see rural communities thriving, the primary sector driving our economic recovery from COVID-19 and to put farming on a truly sustainable path. These goals all work in tandem together.

“Catchment groups focus communities on restoring our rivers - within a generation - and addressing climate change. In doing so, they weave stronger communities and build our exporting credentials.

“This funding will enable the collective to develop an integrated environmental plan specific to the 89,000-hectare Hakataramea catchment, and carry out demonstration projects.

“Landowners will be able to use catchment-specific resources and research to grow their skills and capability, and strengthen their individual Farm Environment Plans (FEPs).”

Hakataramea Sustainability Collective will receive $550,000 for the catchment group project over three years. The remaining $60,000 is additional funding allocated to the district’s successful Rural Community Hub, which the Collective received $30,000 to set up in early 2021.

Damien O’Connor said the Hakataramea Sustainability Collective’s work reflected what was important to the area’s residents.

"The hub has got off to a flying start and other community-driven initiatives they've got lined up will add to the resilience and vibrancy of the area,” Damien O’Connor said.

“It shows what people can achieve when they get together. Their focus on building understanding of biodiversity through the local school and upskilling people in disaster preparedness will have long-term benefits.”

The funding is on top of at least $8.4 million already allocated to support catchment groups and Rural Community Hubs across the wider Canterbury region by the Government. 

A key component of the Government’s Fit for a Better World roadmap is to restore freshwater environments to a healthy state within a generation and grow food and fibre sector exports by an extra $44 billion over 10 years. 

“Catchment groups provide a valuable platform to promote good on-farm practices and sustainable land management, showcase innovation and success, and positively shift the dial for the environment,” Damien O’Connor said.

The Government has invested in more than 170 farmer-led catchment groups across the country, which are supported through the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).