Fonterra and the Department of Conservation (DOC) today (Friday October 17) held a community open day to mark a successful start to their 10-year Living Water programme to improve water quality and increase the abundance and variety of native species in the Hikurangi catchment that feeds into the northern end of the Kaipara Harbour.
The open day was held at Jordan Valley Farm at Hikurangi, 16 km north of Whangarei.
The open day was a chance for the community to hear about work being done in the Hikurangi catchment by Fonterra and DOC in partnership with local dairy farmers, Ngā Kaitiaki O Ngā Wai Māori and a range of key stakeholders including the Integrated Kaipara Harbour Management Group, Whangārei District Council and Northland Regional Council.
Jamie Vaguley (10) holds a longfin eel (tuna) at the Fonterra DOC Living Water open community day. Logan Woodworth (9) looks on.
The day included activities run by The Whitebait Connection and Ngā Kaitiaki O Ngā Wai Māori that gave local primary school students the opportunity to get up close to native freshwater species living in the Hikurangi catchment.
This included tuna (eels), koura (freshwater crayfish), banded kōkopu, black mudfish and freshwater insects. The students learnt that these native species need good water quality and good habitats, with native vegetation, to survive and thrive. These species will help us measure whether our work to improve water quality in the catchment and in the Kaipara is effective.
To date, work in the catchment has involved bringing together all the parties connected to Hikurangi, laying the scientific platform needed to measure the effectiveness of the catchment work programme, and planting a row of native trees on the banks of a drain on a Fonterra dairy farm in the catchment.
This is known as riparian planting which improves water quality by reducing run-off into waterways, stabilises banks to reduce flood damage and provides a habitat for native fish, birds and insects. The completed planting will serve as a model for future riparian planting throughout the catchment.
Fonterra Living Water Project Manager, Tim Brandenburg: "This is a 10-year programme and we've laid solid foundations, bringing together organisations and people to focus on the right projects and build on work already underway in the catchment.
"We're now doing a mapping exercise to determine sites where we will carry out more riparian planting, and other work, to improve water quality and increase the abundance and variety of native species in the catchment."
DOC Commercial Partnerships Director Geoff Ensor: "The open day was a chance for the local community to learn about the programme. They saw from the range of agencies and people attending that this is a huge group effort. This is what's needed to improve the water quality of the catchment and the Kaipara."
"The event also provided the wider community an opportunity to get involved in the programme. We welcome ideas from people on how they can get involved."
The Hikurangi Catchment covers about 55,000 hectares. This is the catchment of the Wairua River that flows into the Kaipara Harbour. Within the catchment is a floodplain covering 13,140 hectares with 5,670 hectares of this area included in a swamp drainage scheme.
About the Fonterra DOC Living Water programme
The Living Water programme is undertaking similar work with partner organisations and local communities to improve water quality at four other catchment sites in significant dairying regions throughout New Zealand.
The other Living Water catchments are Pūkorokoro / Miranda at Tīkapa Moana / Firth of Thames, three Waikato Peat Lakes - Areare, Ruatuna and Rotomānuka -Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere in Canterbury and Awarua-Waituna in Southland.