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Manawatū River progress celebrated

The Manawatū River Leaders’ Forum is celebrating progress of initiatives underway to help improve the Manawatū River and catchment with a progress report, new website and river festival.   

The Forum is made up of iwi/hapū, local government, industry, farming, environmental and recreational leaders and has been in existence since 2010. All members are signatories to the Manawatū River Leaders’ Accord and have pledged to improve the state of the river.

Independent chair Richard Thompson says the Forum has pulled together a progress report to mark milestones from the 2016-21 Action Plan, the second, of the Accord.

“Within this plan, 104 tasks were identified as ways to contribute towards the continual improvement of the river’s health. These tasks range from wastewater treatment plant upgrades, stormwater management and managing erosion on hill country, through to community initiatives such as fencing and planting,” says Mr Thompson.  

“The progress report is a two year summary of tasks completed, ongoing or evolved.  Funding these tasks takes a significant investment from all involved, with over approximately $66 million contributed since the Accord began.

“Of this, $8.65 million has come from central government through the likes of the Fresh Start for Freshwater Clean-up Fund, Te Mana o Te Wai and the Freshwater Improvement Fund.”

Mr Thompson says the report will be available on the brand new manawaturiver.co.nz website, and a summary on hand at a river festival being held on 24 November.

“A lot of great work has been achieved, not only since 2016, but since the Accord was signed in 2011. For example two million plants have been planted to manage nutrients and protect habitats, over 600 kilometres of fencing erected to keep stock out of waterways, 46 community projects supported and six wastewater treatment plants upgraded – the list goes on. Change will take time, however the likes of a recent award for the Ōroua River shows we’re on the right track. 

“The new website is a fantastic resource for discovering what action is underway in each part of the catchment, the science behind the Accord and how far we’ve come. It also provides information on how members of the public can get involved and do their bit for the river.

“If people would like to learn more about this in person, they can come along to the first Manawatū River Festival that is taking place on Saturday from 12-3pm upstream of Fitzherbert Bridge in Palmerston North. Accord members will be onsite to answer questions and there will be food trucks and live music creating an awesome atmosphere beside the awa. 

Mr Thompson says achievements made to date wouldn’t have been possible without the Forum working together, and support from landowners, ratepayers and central government.

“Everyone in the catchment is contributing to the Accord through Horizon Regional Council’s rating system so we really hope people take time to see how their investment is being utilised. While there is always more that can be done, by all working together we will make a lasting difference.”

For more information and a full copy of the 2016-21 Action Plan visit www.manawaturiver.co.nz

For more information about the Manawatū River Festival see the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/867888883335323/