It’s not just rockets taking off on Mahia, waterway restoration work is soaring across the peninsula.
Back in 2012 landowners, iwi and the Whangawehi local community was concerned with the state of the Whangawehi catchment. They gathered for a hui to discuss what they could do to restore it. The result was the forming of the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group.
Fast-forward to today and the group is recognised for being a leader in collaboration for large-scale waterway restoration. Landowners have worked together to completely fence off and plant the lower 7km of the Whangawehi River. Altogether 168,000 native plants and trees have been planted.
Pat and Sue O’Brien were the first farmers in the area to join the group. The couple are fourth generation farmers and have always been proactive at restoring waterways on their farm. Ten years ago they retired and fenced off 30 hectares of wetlands and planted 22,000 native trees. All while increasing farm performance.
Million Metres helped Pat and Sue in the Taharoa/Grandy Lake Forest project back in 2016. The team also worked with another landowner on the Pangaroa Station project. Altogether Million Metres has helped Whanagwehi landowners plant 22,000 native plants and trees and is set to launch another local project with the Coops at Okepuha Station in October.
As chairman of the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group, Pat helped to unite landowners and kick off on the ground work five years ago. The group has now finished planting along the Whangawehi River and is helping landowners in another catchment on the peninsular.
But restoring native forest hasn’t been the group’s only focus. Pat told us:
“We’ve been pushing for a predator free Mahia for a number of years. Instead of doing it alone we decided to collaborate. We teamed up with Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and local Iwi to to make it happen.”
The partnership has proved successful. Earlier this month the Government announced it would back a Hawke’s Bay Regional Council plan to make Mahia Peninsula possum-free. A $1.62 million funding injection was announced by Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage.
Pest Free Mahia will build on work that has already been done in the Hawke’s Bay region. This includes the Cape to City Project at Cape Kidnappers, which Million Metres has also been involved in.
These are big steps in the journey towards a Predator Free Aotearoa 2050. Collaboration has been key to get to this point and it’s going to be key to meeting that goal. Click here to watch a video on the people behind it.