Since 2013, Ngāti Rangi and WPI have been working proactively on a Waterway Restoration Program on the upper reaches of the Whangaehu River catchment.
This collaborative project has been developed in a effort to help mitigate the company's water take from the Tokiahuru River and discharge, from the WPI Pulp Mill, into the Whangaehu River. Horizons Regional Council are also working alongside us contributing both funds and technical expertise.
The Whangaehu and Tokiahuru River catchments include high value wetlands and watercourses already under protection or, undergoing some form of management but there are also highly modified sites with no current protection. Through this six-year project we aim to provide protection to sites that have the most culturally and ecological importance.
In New Zealand 74 percent of native freshwater fish, including Mussel and Koura, are threatened with extinction and over 90 percent of NZ wetlands have been drained or filled. Many of the remaining ten percent are classed as are severely polluted. Our goal is to restore and maintain the wai ora, wai mouri and and wai mana of Ngāti Rangi’s tupuna awa.
Poor biodiversity and water flow levels result in a number of cultural impacts including severely reducing the availability of kai, medicinal plants and weaving and building materials. Improving the wider environment helps to create biodiversity hotspots, protects against climate change and reduces the impacts of flooding and sediment build up.
A fully-functioning, healthy, freshwater ecosystem hosting diverse native vegetation, an abundance of aquatic and terrestrial native wildlife and clean drinkable water is easy to imagine. Once damaged, re-establishing this balance can take decades because these ecosystems go beyond the immediate riparian environment and also rely on good land-use management in the wider catchment.
Through our collaboration with WPI, Horizons and local farmers we have increased fencing and planting increased weed control and seen improvements in the areas eco-diversity.