Wanaka project receives $3 million to boost local environmental efforts

  • Hon Damien O’Connor

A Wanaka project will get $3 million to deliver improvements in freshwater quality and biodiversity, and provide jobs, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

“The WAI Wānaka Jobs for Nature project will provide much-needed work for those who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19,” said Mr O’Connor.

“These jobs will involve a mix of environmental work, focused on farm properties in the upper Clutha area, such as riparian planting, restoring wetlands, fencing, pest management, and projects to enhance biodiversity.

“In a region greatly affected by COVID-19, it’s fantastic to get in behind the WAI Wānaka Jobs for Nature project. This project will build on the work farmers are already doing to improve the health of their land and water.”

Mr O’Connor said a $3 million funding agreement has been confirmed between WAI Wanaka (Upper Clutha Lakes Trust) and the Ministry for Primary Industries. The funding is part of the Government’s Jobs for Nature programme, which is creating nature-based jobs to benefit the environment and support the economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over three years, the WAI Wānaka Jobs for Nature project is expected to deliver the training, plants, and equipment needed to implement extensive environmental activities, primarily on farms in the basin area.

Mr O’Connor says New Zealand’s food and fibres sector will continue to be relied upon to help drive New Zealand’s export returns and boost our COVID-19 recovery efforts. 

“Taking greater action to improve environmental outcomes is essential for New Zealand to generate substantial economic and environmental benefits, and to boost human and cultural wellbeing,” said Mr O’Connor.

“These are at the heart of the Fit for a Better World vision launched by the Primary Sector Council last year, and the Government’s Fit for a Better World – Accelerating our Economic Potential Roadmap.

“Consumers globally are increasingly seeking immune-boosting, healthy and sustainable products. The WAI Wānaka - Jobs for Nature project is one example of work going on around the country with a focus on lifting environmental and economic outcomes and boosting wellbeing. Supporting projects like this is delivering on our goals to clean up waterways and create employment opportunities in the regions.”

Minister O’Connor made the announcement at the We Are One Reset Summit 2020, at the Lake Wanaka Event Centre on Friday evening (30 October).


Editor’s notes:

WAI Wanaka Jobs for Nature (WW-J4N)

  • Funding for the WAI Wānaka Jobs for Nature project was approved by the Ministry of Primary Industries on 14 October.
  • The WAI Wanaka J4N project will be carried out in three phases:
    • A first phase is already underway with funding from other sources, employing 14 workers for eight weeks, undertaking initial tree planting and site maintenance work.
    • Phase Two: increasing outreach of the programme, additional environmental activities, and creation of a project management team and work plan, with around 23 employees. (October 2020 - February 2021).
    • Phase Three: Ongoing work and a further 9 jobs with a mix of full and part-time roles, enabling workers to maintain their links with other employers such as local businesses operating at reduced levels (ongoing until 2023).
  • WAI Wānaka Jobs for Nature environmental work will be primarily carried out on farming properties across the Cardrona, Luggate Creek, Lake Hāwea, Hāwea Flat, and Maungawera catchments. Farmers have been working with the WAI Wānaka Trust to establish individual and community catchment plans.
  • The WAI Wānaka Jobs for Nature project (previously known as Wanaka Future Reset) was identified as one of five ready-to-start projects for Jobs for Nature funding https://www.mfe.govt.nz/funding/jobs-for-nature/funding-for-catchment-group-projects
  • The WAI Wānaka Jobs for Nature project builds on work already established by WAI Wānaka, including the Wānaka Water project https://www.waiwanaka.nz/ which has completed an Integrated Catchment Management Plan for the Upper Clutha. (This project was funded by Ministry for the Environment, Otago Regional Council, Queenstown Lakes District Council, Sargood Bequest and Sustainable Business Network/Million Metres)
  • WAI Wānaka (Upper Clutha Lakes Trust) is a Charitable Trust chaired by Dr Amanda Bell.


MPI Jobs for Nature programmes

Funding for Jobs for Nature projects through MPI includes:

  • $10 million allocated to support catchment group projects in the Bay of Plenty, Rangitikei, Canterbury, and across Otago, to help with land restoration, wetland protection, remediation of waterways, planting, pest control, and the increased uptake of farm environment plans. This funding is distributed through MPI’s Productive and Sustainable Land Use programme.
  • In addition, the One Billion Trees Programme through Te Uru Rākau has allocated $35 million from the One Billion Trees Fund for large scale planting and catchment initiatives.
  • MPI (Biosecurity New Zealand) is also distributing $100 million over four years to expand the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme, and $27.4 million for reducing the impacts of wallabies on farming, forestry and natural environments.

More information about the national Jobs for Nature programme is at the MfE website https://www.mfe.govt.nz/funding/jobs-for-nature