I’m buzzing! Yesterday, we had a great visit to the Tukituki river area to focus on swimmable river solutions. The day started near the mouth of the Tukituki at Haumoana where we were honoured to participate in a blessing of a “waiata wall” beside the river. The message on the wall is the beautiful waiata “Tai Aroha”.
It was a lovely ceremony of respect for water led by manawhenua. We were so pleased to see the Haumoana school children, the Chair of the Regional Council and the many, many Greens who participated.
Fellow Green MP Eugenie Sage and I then visited Clive School. These young environmental leaders showed us their creek which runs by the school. The children talked about all the knowledge they have gained from studying their creek. They also spoke powerfully about how the creek provides a sense of place and instils a desire to protect our precious water.
Later, we went down to the Tukituki at Black Bridge. Standing in the shallow water clogged with slimy rocks, I spoke with Māori TV about making swimmable real and my Bill to protect aquifers.
We then met with the regional Fish and Game officers and learned more their efforts to work with iwi and local groups to protect the local rivers. They are working on a Water Conservation Order to protect the Ngaruroro River but they say the Tukituki is in a far worse state.
Our public hui at beautiful Matahiwi Marae was the biggest of the water tour so far. About 180 people filled the wharekai and listened to Professor Russell Death of Massey University explain what a healthy river is and what the Nick Smith swimmable announcement is not. Dr Death gave us some great practical advice about checking water quality in our rivers and he said that the current crisis can be summed up as ” too many cows”.
Green MP Eugenie Sage outlined the range of political threats to water quality and the great Green solutions. Tom Belford who is a Hawkes Bay Regional Councillor updated people on the Ruataniwha dam issues in a changed regional political environment. Even though the balance of power has shifted with the election of our Green man Paul Bailey, the dam debate ain’t over yet.
The audience was superb and very keen to discuss both political and practical solutions – from changing the Government to engaging local farmers in the shift to smart farming. I learned a piece of valuable info too. Some farm plans are being audited in some places by fertiliser companies, which seems, well…counter-intuitive to say the least.
A whaea from Kohupatiki Marae described to us how healthy water from the mountains should start off ” young” and gathers minerals and nutrients as it travels to the sea where it should be like mothers milk to the wildlife at the river mouth. I always learn so much when I visit Hawkes Bay. The politics of water is so alive and the people have a strong determination to fight for Tukituki and other rivers. I am inspired by water like Des Ratima. A big shout out to our local Green Party members too for always ensuring we have successful events.
As I said at the end of our hui, love water and trust Dr Death.