Communities leading the way
Managing land and water resources in regional catchments is a national and regionally significant issue for urban and rural communities as well as regional and local councils. Meeting the needs of current and future generations means taking action based on a clear understanding of what is important about land and water for these communities.
Greater Wellington Regional Council has taken an innovative approach to finding a way forward by establishing whaitua, or catchment management committees.
These community-led committees will bring local people together to agree shared goals for land and water management. Work has begun in greater Wellington’s Ruamāhanga (Wairarapa) and Te Awarua-o-Porirua catchments. A further three Whaitua Committees will be established across the Wellington region including one for Wairarapa’s eastern hill country. The Ruamāhanga Whaitua Committee (RWC) has been working to understand what the Ruamāhanga River community values and wants from land and water. They have created a community vision for land and water management following discussions across the catchment.
The next step is to test ideas and options that deliver this vision through land and water management practices. The RWC is working in partnership with the wider community and a range of experts in agriculture, biodiversity, tangata whenua perspectives, recreation, urban and economic interests to gather the essential information needed to prioritise objectives for land and water management.
This team of experts is creating a representation or ‘model’ of the current state of the catchment. The model can be used to show the potential impact of any changes that the community, through the committee, want to better understand.
In early 2017, the community’s objectives for land and water management will be translated into the Whaitua Committee’s recommendations to achieve their vision. These recommendations will feed into the Ruamāhanga Whaitua Implementation Programme (WIP). This WIP will describe some rules specifically for the Ruamāhanga River catchment. The programme will be presented to the Greater Wellington Regional Council and Te Upoko Taiao committee for approval. The Ruamāhanga Whaitua will then have its own section in the GWRC Natural Resources Plan – the legal, guiding document for the council.
Importantly the programme will also describe some ways to manage land and water that the Ruamāhanga Whaitua community want to undertake - ideas that reflect the passion our rural and urban community have for sustainable land and water management in our region.