Members of the Manawatu River Leaders’ Forum shared their story of collaboration with other delegates at the 2015 International River Symposium’s Gala Dinner in Brisbane last night.
The River Accord was one of four finalists in the inaugural Morgan Foundation Riverprize Award and, although it did not take the title, it was recognised by judges as a project that “demonstrated the best that New Zealand has to offer in integrated basin management”.
Independent chairperson of the Manawatu River Leaders’ Forum Richard Thompson extended his congratulations to the Aorere River in Tasman and said being selected as a finalist was an honour in itself.
“Being a part of Riverprize has provided an opportunity to raise the profile of work underway in the catchment both within New Zealand and overseas,” Mr Thompson said.
“It’s allowed us to take an in-depth look at work achieved to date and learn from the actions of others as the Forum considers its next steps in developing a revised Action Plan for the River.”
The first Manawatū River Leaders’ Action Plan was launched in 2011, outlining over 130 voluntary actions to be taken by Accord partners to restore the Manawatū River and catchment.
This Plan assisted the Forum in its bid for Central Government funding in 2012, when it received $5.2 million from Central Government’s Fresh Start for Fresh Water Clean-up Fund. This leveraged a further $25 million from Accord partners which was put towards a suite of projects including: wastewater treatment plant upgrades, native fish and trout habitat restoration, riparian fencing and planting, environmental farm plans and community initiatives.
Members of the Manawatū River Leaders’ Forum met in Palmerston North last week and a revised Action Plan is expected to be released in November.
This Plan will be informed by a statement on state, trends and recommendations prepared by a science and matauranga Maori panel in March and involve stakeholders representing a wide range of iwi/hapu, environmental, farming and industry, local government and regional council groups.
“There’s a strong desire amongst Accord members to keep the wider community informed and engaged as we enter stage two of the River clean-up. We’ll be looking at different ways in which we can do this and are open to hearing ideas around how the community would like to get involved,” Mr Thompson said.
Horizons Regional Council chairman Bruce Gordon said a lot has been achieved under the Accord to date but there is still a long way to go and he’s looking forward to seeing what the next stage will bring.
“The Action Plan is a stake in the ground and a commitment to our communities,” Mr Gordon said.
“Revising the current Plan will help to refocus the efforts of all Accord partners. We’re looking forward to continuing this journey with all parties to improve the Manawatū River and catchment.”
View a timeline of milestones in the Manawatu River Leaders' Accord project.