About 50 people from across New Zealand have gathered in Kerikeri for the country’s first Enviroschools WaiRestoration national hui.
WaiRestoration is a project that focuses on engaging young people and local communities to take action to restore local waterways and biodiversity. Initially conceived by members of the Northland Regional Council’s (NRC’s) Enviroschools’ team in 2013, the project has been developing constantly since then.
Councillor Joce Yeoman says the three-day hui – a joint initiative between the NRC and Enviroschools’ national body Toimata Foundation – was designed to inspire and teach other regions wanting to implement the Enviroschools WaiRestoration project.
Councillor Yeoman – whose Coastal North constituency includes the Kerikeri area – says participants at the March 26-28 hui learned more about the project, including its benefits and challenges and its roles and responsibilities.
“I’m incredibly proud as a regional councillor that our Enviroschools team has developed the WaiRestoration programme and is able to now share it with others from around the country,” says Cr Yeoman.
“The programme aligns with council’s core values, promoting fencing of waterways, riparian and wetland planting, improved biodiversity and pest management; all of which are key to our work and our current proposed Long Term Plan 2018.”.
Enviroschools Canterbury’s Matt Sanford checks out a fencing demonstration by Landcorp Kapiro Station fencer Mike Sunnex as part of a three-day national WaiRestoration hui at Kerikeri. Regional councillor Joce Yeoman – whose father taught her to fence as a child – looks on.
A number of local organisations, tangata whenua, students and teachers, farmers, landowners and others attended the hui, passing on their WaiRestoration experiences to participants, who came from as far afield as Otago.
Participants also received copies of a specially designed booklet outlining Enviroschools WaiRestoration and learned about the seven elements at the heart of the project:
- WaiFencing (keeping stock out of waterways)
- WaiNurseries (growing riparian plants)
- WaiPlanting (planting beside waterways)
- WaiMaintenance (keeping out plant and animal pests)
- WaiMonitoring (testing and tracking water quality)
- WaiEnterprise (creating sustainable employment)
- Save a Species (restoring endangered plants and animals).
The hui had included a number of hands-on workshops and visits to existing restoration sites in and around Kerikeri to see how the programme might be adopted or adapted for other regions.
“It’s been fantastic to share with other similarly enthusiastic colleagues, what we’ve learned over the past several years about successfully collaborating with our wider local communities to improve waterways and associated biodiversity.”
Councillor Yeoman says the Enviroschools WaiRestoration programme is currently active in about 30 school communities right around the region and is continuing to expand each year.
In the wake of the hui, it was also hoped to expand the project into other regions.
Information about the wider Enviroschools programme in Northland is available online at www.nrc.govt.nz/enviroschools