The Whangawehi Restoration Project group is hoping for success at this week’s Green Ribbon Awards. The project is one of the finalists, after their fourth application for the prestigious awards presented by the Minister for the Environment.
“This project is unique in Hawke’s Bay and we hope that the hard work achieved by all our volunteers will be recognised and awarded by a prize in the ‘Caring for our water’ category,” says Kathleen Mato, Leader of the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group.
The Whangawehi restoration project is based around the Whangawehi River catchment on the east coast of Mahia. In this remote spot, its famous near neighbour is the RocketLab launch site.
The project started in 2011 to address the concerns of the Mahia community about the potential effects of a new wastewater system and other land uses on the water quality of the river, the estuary and the marine ecosystems outside the river mouth, which are all traditional food sources. Although the wastewater treatment was a necessary step to replace ageing and leaking septic tanks and deal with resulting with stream pollution, it had its own environmental impacts that needed care.
A catchment management plan was developed and this sets the priority actions to improve water quality and protect endangered habitats. There have been many planting days along the river and on private land.
“Our big milestone this year is the scientific evidence that we have improved water quality in the river by 15%, which is a significant reduction in faecal contamination and the only river in Hawke’s Bay improving at that level,” says project manager, Nic Caviale Delzescaux.
The Whangawehi Catchment Management Group has grown to include local land owners, local authorities including Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, several marae, Department of Conservation, a forestry company, the Mahia Maori Committee and Mahia School. They all work together to better manage land and water in the catchment, and to co-ordinate environmental work and education in the community. Volunteers come from all over Hawke’s Bay and the world to help with the project.
7 June 2017
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