It’s not nearly enough, but it’s a great start – that’s the verdict on the Government’s announcement last week that the Kaipara Harbour would be one of the main beneficiaries of a $12 million fund to help clean up catchments and waterways.
During a visit to northern Kaipara, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Environment Minister David Parker said the money would be used to support community-led programmes, and they acknowledged the work done by the Integrated Kaipara Harbour Management Group (IKHMG) for what it had already achieved towards cleaning the catchment and reducing sediment run-off.
IKHMG programme manager Willie Wright said it was great that the efforts of landowners and the community were finally being acknowledged by the government.
“What a great day we had. I’m pretty rapt and we’re all pretty rapt,” he said. “It’s a massive job, but this is a start in the right direction and it’s a huge acknowledgement for the hapori and the community.”
He added that this funding boost was nothing to do with a larger sum being sought by regional councils and iwi for a major programme of mitigation and remediation works for the harbour, which could cost hundreds of millions of dollars (MM, May 8). However, Auckland Council treaty settlement manager John Hutton, who is managing that bid strategy, agreed that last week’s announcement was a good start.
“It was a really good and positive day and we’ll take that, but we’ve got a lot further to go and that’s what we’re in the middle of doing,” he said. “The positive thing about it was that out of all of New Zealand, David Parker wanted to visit the Kaipara Harbour and it was focusing on the good work that IKHMG is doing with the community.”
Willie Wright said that while the details of how the funding programme would operate were as yet unknown, he understood that it would be left to local groups and organisations to decide how best to spend the money.
The Prime Minister said action in the Kaipara would include “simple solutions” such as riparian planting, wetland preservation and development, fencing streams and using the best science to locate sediment hotspots and measure sediment flows.
Mr Parker said the Government was working with the community to help understand what could make the greatest difference and then what interventions to take, such as where to build and restore wetlands, or where more hillside planting was required to stabilise steep land.
“Volunteers, iwi, local government, farmers and school students are all working together to improve the quality of the water flowing into the Kaipara Harbour,” he said.
“Then those lessons from ‘exemplar’ catchments like Kaipara will be passed on to others.”