THREE days left to help save the Manawatu

18 May 2016 by The Million Metres team Auckland Council Northland

The Poulton family is crowdfunding to plant 220 metres of local waterway. A recent flurry of activity has got them within $18,000 of their $43,750 goal! AND they have secured match-funding for the next $9,000 donated. Invest NOW to make each dollar you give count double for cleaning up New Zealand’s streams.

John Poulton was raised in a farming family and now farms himself. He has seen first-hand the immense changes in the state of New Zealand’s waterways. He is working with the Million Metres project to do something about it.

In many ways John Poulton is living the classic Kiwi life.

He grew up on his parent's farm in Horowhenua in the foothills of the Tararua ranges. As a boy he would spend hours swimming and playing in the streams on the farm.

John has grown up to be a farmer himself near Dannevirke with his wife Marina. His three daughters Milly, Isobel, and Zari have an upbringing much like his own. They too love to swim in the streams.

“We can’t take it for granted anymore that they will be able to keep swimming in the streams here, or that their children will be able to,” says John. “The water isn’t as clean as it used to be. It’s more polluted and we know it could get more polluted in the future if we don’t do something about it now.”

As a beef and sheep farmer, John accepts that he has a special responsibility to do what he can to protect the streams on his land. The family has done a lot of work on this in the decade since taking over the farm.

The Poulton’s work with council advisors to minimise the pollution caused by fertiliser used on the farm. They have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in fencing the stock out of the streams. They have also been working with Queen Elizabeth II National Trust to covenant 5.2 hectares of bush to protect it for the long term.

Working with the Trust and the Sustainable Business Network’s Million Metres project has given them an opportunity to do more. The plan is to plant about 3700 native trees along 1250m of stream bank this winter.

“Our stream also runs into the Manawatu River about halfway down our farm,” John explains. “We know the Manawatu has huge water quality issues and that what we do on our farm impacts the whole catchment. The Manawatu River is the life blood of the entire catchment and is important as a longfin eel breeding area.”

The work will cost $44,000. The family is using Million Metre’s unique crowdfunding approach to meet the cost. Supporters can go online at and fund their own metre of planting for $35.

Through the project they have also attracted match funding. This means that for every dollar donated up to another $9000, the match funder will also put in a dollar, doubling the impact of the gift. 

This not only supports the work on the Manawatu, but also helps towards Million Metre’s mission to crowdfund the replanting one million metres of stream around New Zealand. 

Georgina Hart, Million Metres project manager, says: “It’s great to be working with the Poultons. They are so dedicated to this and have a lot of experience. Cleaning up streams on farms like this is crucial for the future of New Zealand’s waterways.”
John adds: “Our goal is to make sure we’re having a positive impact on the catchment downstream of us, as well as on our own farm. We want to protect the health of the river and ensure that our waterways are safe for swimming and drinking, and for fish and insects too.”

Find out more about this project and donate to it here.

See more here