Mahia community galvanised around restoration of Whangawehi stream

13 Aug 2015 by The Million Metres team Whangawehi Catchment Management Group Hawke’s Bay

It all started in 2010 when pioneer Kathleen Mato of Rongomaiwahine put together a submission regarding the waste water sewerage system then proposed for the Whangawehi catchment on the Mahia Peninsula.

Ms Mato didn’t make that submission, but instead came up with a strategy that resulted in the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group, incorporated in 2012.

The group identified a shared desire to create better management to protect and enhance the natural, physical, cultural and spiritual resources of the catchment as a whole, returning the Whangawehi Awa to pristine condition as it flows into the Mahinga Kai for future generations. The community looks forward to improving biodiversity, restoring customary freshwater fisheries and protecting kaimoana beds at sea.

To date, 5 km of fence has been built to exclude animals from the waterway, and 16,000 plants have gone in, with a further 40,000 planned for this year. Over the next two to three years, 200,000 plants are planned for planting over a seven kilometre area. The group is currently funding the winter 2015 plants on the crowdfunding website over two projects. The Taharoa/Grandy Lake Forest and Pongaroa projects are targeting $35,200 and $64,800 respectively.

Successful outcomes to date are a positive reflection of what can be achieved when a group such as this works together at a decision making level. Over two signings of the Memorandum of Understanding, many organisations joined the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group in their vision for the land and water, including:

  • Tuahuru, Kaiuku and Ruawharo Marae,
  • Hawkes Bay Regional Council,
  • Wairoa District Council,
  • Mahia Maori Committee
  • Landowners Grandy Lake Forest, Pat and Sue O’Brien and DOC .

The group has won the Regional Environment and Heritage awards as well as the Regional Supreme Award at the Trust Power Community awards in Wairoa in 2013. They were also finalists in the Green Ribbon Environmental Awards in 2015, and the group was successful in taking out the top award, the Regional and National Award in Pride of New Zealand.

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