I was really inspired when taking part in a hui at Puatahi Marae on Sunday, an open day for the Integrated Kaipara Harbour Management Group. The group’s title is a mouthful, but there is nothing complicated about the vision they share, which is to restore the Kaipara, its mauri, its quality and its ecosystems back to what it once was and could be again.
The Group was initiated by hapu of Te Uri o Hau and Ngati Whatua o Kaipara o Nga Rima, both of whom have kaitiaki status on areas of the harbour and its catchment. They very quickly worked out that lots of people and organisations were doing work on and in the harbour, but there was a lack of integration or even coordination so the outcomes of the efforts were less than they could have been.
A research project delivered a solid base for understanding the condition of the harbour and of the influences acting on it, and now a combination of Western science and matauranga Maori is being applied. An ecosystem managment approach is generating solutions – focused actions, especially protecting the waterways feeding into the harbour from sedimant and pollutants.
One of the best presentations I thought was from two young farmers whose families have long association with the area, who are now devoting considerable resource and effort to stabilising eroding land, fencing off and protecting waterways, pest management, and retiring land that assists the ecological restoration and also has a positive effect on the productivity of land still in production.
It is early days, and a lot of work yet to be done, but as an example of Maori and non-Maori organisations and individuals working together with a common cause, to improve environmental, social and economic prospects, it is hard to beat!