Waikanae River catchment restoration programme Waikanae ki Uta ki Tai unfolds
The long-awaited ‘mountains to sea’ project to restore the Waikanae River has appointed its Governance Group and Steering Committee, and will be moving next to develop an Action Plan in collaboration with the Waikanae community.
Department of Conservation Community Ranger Steve Bielby says the programme has had high levels of interest and support from the Waikanae community over a number of years, and was formally launched by the Minister for Conservation Eugenie Sage last year. The programme’s foundation partners Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai, Kāpiti Coast District Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and DOC have been thrilled with the community’s engagement so far, but have been taking time to set the programme up on firm foundations, for work hoped to endure over many years.
The programme’s name, Waikanae ki Uta ki Tai, refers to an inclusive catchment and community wide process to the restoration of the whole river catchment.
Establishment Chair Robin Gunston and an Interim Steering Committee initiated community engagement last year. The Councils have been working with DOC to align their roles and resources, and an alliance has been formed with mana whenua, Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai.
A Governance Group comprises of iwi representative John Barrett, Mayor Gurunathan, Regional Councillor Penny Gaylor and DOC District Manager Jack Mace.
In February, a Steering Committee has been appointed comprising Iwi Members Bill Carter, Rawhiti Higgot, Sharlene Maoate-Davis and Les Mullen, and Community Members Bianca Begovich, Jocelyn Prvanov, Robin Gunston and Phil Stroud.
Steve Bielby says “we were very pleased with the number and calibre of expressions of interest received to become Community Members of the new Steering Committee. One of the reasons the Waikanae River was selected for restoration funding was the strength of its iwi and community support. So we’ve had to emphasize that there was no way all the supporting groups could be represented at this level. The Steering Committee’s process will need to ensure that all groups can have their say in the next phase”.
Terms of Reference approved by the Governance Group task the Steering Committee with leading development of an Action Plan based on shared values and priorities, to support the life and health of the awa and its community for future generations. That process will now unfold through a collaborative process with the Waikanae Community.