Waterways project wins environment funding

  • Nick Smith

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox have announced more than $376,000 of funding to improve water quality in seven waterways in the Manawatū-Whanganui and Taranaki regions.

Local iwi Ngaa Rauru Kiitahi will lead the Te Kāhui o Rauru Trust’s Waterways Restoration Project, working with both local and central government.

"The Government is committed to improving water quality in the Manawatū-Whanganui and Taranaki regions. This initiative is focused on the Kai Iwi, Ototoka and Ōkehu streams, the Waitōtara riverbank, Tapuarau Lagoon, the middle reaches of the Waitōtara River and the Whenuakura River," Dr Smith says.

“Te Kāhui o Rauru Trust clearly understands the issues in these waterways and its project offers realistic, achievable objectives. It has focused clearly on protecting and restoring the seven waterways and moreover has recognised the need to develop ways to monitor the ongoing health of these rivers, lagoon and streams.”

Mrs Fox says 8km of waterways will be fenced to protect them from livestock as part of the project.

“The project team will also clear channels and banks of willows, poplars and waste and establish riparian margins to prevent erosion, and protect the ecosystem.

“We are pleased to be able to support iwi, as kaitiaki of freshwater in their regions, with the restoration of significant local waterways.”

The $376,000 funding comes from the Te Mana o Te Wai Fund, which was announced as part of Budget 2014 in partnership with the Māori Party. It provides $5 million over two years to support iwi and hapū-led initiatives to improve the quality of local freshwater systems. The project will cost $400,000, with the balance coming from Te Kāhui o Rauru Trust and the Horizons Regional Council.

The trust will work with the Horizons and Taranaki regional councils and the Department of Conservation to develop a waterway health monitoring framework which includes cultural and scientific indicators.

“This project delivers practical, long-term benefits which will improve the quality of freshwater in the Manawatū-Whanganui and Taranaki regions. It offers iwi, hapū, whānau and the wider community a very real way to make a significant and long-lasting contribution to the environment,” Dr Smith says.