Support for drought-stressed regions fills a need

An innovative iwi-led plan to help maintain water supply to a far North community battered by drought is set to get underway with support from the Government, Acting Minister for Emergency Management Kris Faafoi says.

“The impacts of climate change are not something that just our grandchildren will have to deal with – we are already seeing them.

“Te Hiku residents have experienced some of the most severe and prolonged drought conditions on record, leading to severe water shortages, restrictions and rural residents having to rely on tanker deliveries for their drinking water.

“The region is expected to suffer more frequent and severe droughts, making it increasingly important that steps are taken now to increase the resilience of these communities to future droughts.

“Which is why the Government is providing funding to purchase and install up to 1000 water tanks in Te Hiku for homes and community facilities.

“Runanga Nui ō Te Aupōuri will lead the roll out of the project, which was championed by my colleague Kiri Allan, on behalf of wider communities supported by a number of Government departments,

“The $8 million investment will have a number of tangible outcomes, including improving drought resilience and providing employment and skills opportunities. Longer term it will make a real social and economic difference to the community,” Kris Faafoi said.

Haami Piripi, chair of Te Runanga o Te Rarawa, said changing weather patterns in the Te Hiku o Te Ika region made it critical the problem was addressed.

“The effects on our whānau are devastating, particularly in rural areas where our marae and papakāinga become unusable with no or limited house supply and therefore have little or no ability to host local hui and events.

“Water conservation and traditional ways of saving and reusing water have become for many, well-established practices within whānau. However with recent national emergencies and evacuations, marae and hapū were hosting whānau and holidaymakers through a time of water shortages and restrictions,” he said.

Kris Faafoi said the government was committed to providing a sustainable solution. “Reliable water storage will mean greater resilience for this vulnerable community for which climate change is becoming a pressing reality.”

Funding for the Te Hiku water security project is being provided from the National Emergency Management Agency administered drought financial assistance package.