Working together for a greener tomorrow

Waiōtahe Water Care Group in action.

Great things can happen when you get likeminded, passionate people working together. Care group volunteers are often unsung heroes, but we’re in a privileged position to see their work in action.

Care groups are community-led, volunteer-based groups that do mahi in their own corner of the world, with a view that what they do in their own ‘backyard’ can have a big impact on environmental and biodiversity wins for the whole community.

The great thing about these groups is that they start from the ground up. They are often born out of an environmental challenge that the community wants to address – for example, poor water quality, a reduction in native biodiversity or a decline in sites that are culturally or socially important.

Those who form the group come with lots of passion and ideas, but don’t always know where or how to start. That’s where we can help – by working with a local Land Management Officer from Regional Council, care groups can access planning advice and guidance, technical expertise, resources (such as plants or traps) and funding through either us or Central Government agencies (such as Mfe).

By working alongside these groups, we can support and guide them, ensuring the work they do will have meaningful outcomes, while enabling them to build capability and connection within their own community.

A great example of this is the Waiōtahe Water Care Group. In 2015, a group of Ōpōtiki farmers banded together with a common goal: To improve water quality in the Waiōtahe Estuary. Our monitoring found that the estuary, which hosts a very popular and extensive pipi bed, had high levels of bacteria and it was in a declining state, largely due to land use practices in the catchment. Farmers in the area were keen to work with us and, together, aim for significant ecological improvements.

Since then, we and other partners (such as Fonterra and NZ Landcare Trust) have helped create and implement a set of environmental programmes that include clean-ups, riparian planting, the fencing of water ways, raised awareness of nutrient and effluent management effects and options, pest control and numerous volunteer planting days.

It’s also been a great way for the landowners in that area to come together regularly to share knowledge and form important relationships. They’re now working to help landowners in the neighbouring Nukuhou area form a care group, and we look forward to seeing this mahi progress.  

They are just one group of the 82 we work with across the region. The commitment and hard work of care groups is highly valued by Regional Council, and it’s a pleasure to work with people who feel passionately about their part in the big picture. If you’d like to get involved in a local group, or want to start one of your own, get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.


There are no comments on this article.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to make a comment. Login Now
Opinion Poll

We're not running a poll right now. Check back soon!