Minister for the Environment Dr Nick Smith joined Iwi/hapū, council and community leaders in Palmerston North today for the formal launch of the new Manawatū River Action Plan.
The Plan is a commitment by Iwi/hapū, local and central government, industry, farming, environmental and recreational leaders to over 100 collaborative actions put forward to improve the state of the Manawatū River over the next five years.
It builds on work achieved under the original Action Plan launched in July 2011 which Minister Smith also attended.
Horizons Regional Council deputy chair Paul Rieger who spoke at the event said when Minister Smith came to the region in 2011 he said it was not enough to just have an action plan, Forum members would need to work hard to implement it.
Since then over 380km of stream has been fenced, over 120,000 plants have been planted, 98 Environmental Farm Plans have been completed to assist in reducing the environmental footprint of farming, 15 barriers to fish migration have been fixed or removed, 6 wastewater treatment plants have been upgraded or are in the process of being upgraded and 23 community-led projects have received funding and support with a further 6 currently underway.
Cr Rieger also announced a new round of River Accord community grants, with applications to open later this month.
“Much has been achieved under the original Action Plan,” Cr Rieger said.
“Relationships have been forged and the open discussion enabled through the Forum has seen the culture shift from one of blame to progress. However, the journey is just beginning and we are far from ready to down tools and head home.
“The Manawatu Catchment is now one of the most heavily monitored in New Zealand. If we are to effect real change, collaboration is essential. We look forward to working in partnership with our fellow Accord signatories and the wider community to implement this change for the benefit of our river over the years to come.”
Independent chairperson of the Manawatū River Leaders’ Forum Richard Thompson echoed Cr Rieger’s sentiment stating that with the launch of the new Action Plan the Forum was renewing its commitment to continuing its journey together with the community.
“The vision of the Forum is to improve the Manawatū River and the mauri (lifeforce) of the Manawatū River Catchment such that it sustains fish species and is suitable for contact recreation in balance with the social, cultural and economic activities of the catchment community.
“Achieving this vision is a long-term project. No single action led to the river’s current state and no single solution will fix it but Forum members are here, they’re committed and our community is determined to ensure our rivers and streams can be enjoyed both today and into the future,” he said.