Saving the Waiapu river

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen
  • North Island: East Coast

East Coast landowners have banded together with the local council and government representatives to discuss ways to control their erosion-prone land.

The move comes after the region was hit by heavy rain and flooding.

River management and restoration of wetlands were made a priority today at Porourangi Marae.

"With regard to the Waiapu, we're looking at doing a lot of river recovery, including planting and just working with the river naturally with our resources available there next to the river," says Morehu Te Maro.

“It's all in the stories passed down.  For some, it's just the way of the Waiapu River.  However, if we delve into those stories, we will understand and feel the spirit of the river.”

If restored correctly then the awa will be left in a better state for future generations.

"On our side of the river, what used to be a river is now a river plain, it's three to four kilometres wide in some places.  If we don't start moving now it's going to get worse.  We'll be handing on a legacy of dysfunction to our next generation."

Rebecca Lyon says the main focus is to listen to the concerns of the community.

"We can't promise anything at the moment in terms of funding but what I can promise is that we want to understand the position of the community and what the community wants to achieve and we will work alongside them to help them achieve that vision and help them access funding from central government."

Rural recovery programs are to start in the coming months.