The Manawatū River Leaders’ Forum are thrilled that their collective efforts to improve the Manawatū Catchment’s health has been recognised by the Cawthron New Zealand River Awards today.
Manawatū River Leaders’ Forum co-chair and Tanenuiarangi Manawatū Incorporated chief executive Danielle Harris says the Supreme Award for Catchment with Most Progress Toward Improved River Health recognises not only interventions in the river but the collective mahi undertaken on the ground.
“When the Accord was signed in 2010, not all partners agreed on what needed to be done to help improve the Manawatū River,” says Ms Harris.
“As a result, one of the biggest challenges to begin with was figuring out how we could all work together to achieve our common goal, which was to improve the health and mana of the awa.
“Today’s award recognises the significant body of work undertaken by Accord partners, such as iwi and hapū, local government, environmental groups, community groups, industry and landowners, over the past decade.
“Accord members firmly believe that by working together we can achieve more than working alone, for the benefit of all. We are all kaitiaki (guardians) of the river, so if we step up and protect our taonga, its mauri (lifeforce) will return and thrive for future mātātahi (generations).
”We are now a whole of catchment community working towards a shared vision – kei te ora te wai, kei te ora te whenua, kei te ora te tangata – if the water is healthy, the land and the people are nourished.”
Manawatū River Leaders’ Forum co-chair and Horizons Regional Council chair Rachel Keedwell says collectively, the Forum has produced two Action Plans representing stakeholders’ commitments.
“The Forum has also secured government co-funding for multi-organisational implementation projects. This includes a successful $5.2 million bid to central government’s Fresh Start for Fresh Water Clean-Up Fund and $2.9 million from the Freshwater Improvement Fund,” says Cr Keedwell.
“In conjunction with central government funding, over $66 million has been invested by the catchment’s regional, city and district councils, and landowners through Accord initiatives.
This includes significant wastewater infrastructure upgrades (including moving to land treatment), more than 5 million trees being planted, 1,000km of stream fencing erected, 68 fish passage barriers removed, and 270 environmental farm plans and over 70 community projects completed.
“Horizons also recently secured $4.6 million Jobs for Nature funding to accelerate their existing stream fencing and riparian planting programme. The $10,000 from today’s Supreme Award will supplement this work in the Manawatū Catchment.”
Ms Harris says that in 2016, iwi leaders from the catchment were successful in securing a $534,000 Te Mana o Te Wai grant towards Tū Te Manawa.
“This iwi-led project coordinated and supported efforts to share histories and stories of the awa with the community while enhancing and protecting sites of significance,” says Ms Harris.
“The Accord’s achievements have been a herculean effort and very much worth celebrating as dollars can place no value on all the mahi and results we are experiencing and seeing.”
Cr Keedwell says the Manawatū Catchment has one of the most extensive monitoring networks in the country. Collectively the Forum’s actions, along with many others, have contributed towards some positive results.
“In particular, we have seen improvements in water quality in association with changes to point source discharges where some have been upgraded and others have been removed altogether or combined with the Palmerston North’s wastewater treatment,” says Cr Keedwell.
“Improving the quality of the awa is going to take time. We can see that in the data we are collecting – things change slowly. However, it is heartening to know we are heading in the right direction and that the River Awards have recognised this.”
Click here to watch a video of the acceptance speech from the co-chairs.