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Endorsement for next steps in improving Southland’s water

Environment Southland councillors have endorsed the next steps in the development of the People, Water and Land programme

Councillors gave the green light to progressing the programme at the Strategy and Policy Committee meeting (Wednesday 25 July), endorsing the programme’s vision, objective and next steps to implement the proposed workstreams.

Environment Southland in partnership with Te Ao Marama Inc. (the environmental arm of Ngai Tahu ki Murihiku) has been developing the programme’s framework over the past nine months. Last week the board of Te Ao Marama Inc. also endorsed the People, Water and Land programme.

People, Water and Land programme manager Bonny Lawrence said the vision is inspiring change to improve Southland’s land and water.

“Ultimately we want to enable Southlanders to make changes to improve their freshwater and land and to be more resilient in the long term,” she said.

Te Ao Marama Inc kaupapa taiao manager Dean Whaanga said our community values and how these are applied to getting our water and land right is extremely important. “We must think of the future and the legacy we leave for our children. Making great and correct decisions now and implementing them makes their future look bright.”

“We really need to think of others and work together to get our water right. Once this is done, only good will flow from it,” he said. “Strong, resilient and happy communities with a thriving environment, that’s kaitiakitanga.”

Three workstreams have been identified to achieve the vision: action on the ground, values and objectives, and a regional forum. Bonny said these would focus on working with partners to prioritise on-ground action to improve Southland’s water and land, developing appropriate advice to Council on a regulatory framework to set limits and, above all, helping the community to transition to more sustainable land use.

“Partnering and engaging with Southlanders is a critical part of the work we’ll be doing and over the coming months we’ll be sharing more about the programme and the opportunities for Southlanders to tell us their views and get involved,” Bonny said.

The People, Water and Land programme has the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan as its regulatory foundation and activities in each workstream would begin in the next six months, Bonny said. This would include identifying regulatory and non-regulatory methods to achieve the community’s values and objectives for freshwater by 2021. A plan change would then be notified in advance of meeting the NPSFM requirement of setting limits for managing freshwater by 2025.