A number of Whakakī Lake catchment residents are being asked what they think can be done to improve the productivity and sustainability of the Whakakī catchment and lake area to help create economic diversity, jobs and environmental benefits in the region.
"There's been a lot of work already done in the Whakakī catchment area but there's room for further improvements. The catchment has severe erosion and water quality issues that are impacting on the long-term economic, social and environmental sustainability of the area, in particular on Whakakī Lake," says Ben Dalton, Ministry for Primary Industries' Head of the Regional Growth Programme.
The initiative is part of the government's Regional Growth Programme and is a collaboration between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), Hawkes Bay Regional Council and the Wairoa District Council.
"We're looking to partner with the Whakakī community, including iwi, farmers and foresters, to explore and identify together a common vision for the future of the Whakakī catchment. We want the community to define the issues, explore the opportunities and look at initiatives that will work for everyone," Mr Dalton said.
"If we get this right we could stabilise erosion prone farm land to minimise soil loss into the lake, improve water quality, trial alternative sustainable and economically viable land use options, and enhance the overall living standard of the local community by generating job opportunities."
Wairoa Mayor Craig Little says the initiative is a great project and encourages the Whakakī community to really get in behind and support it. "There's some real potential here for good outcomes for the Whakakī community. It's great that MPI and the Hawke's Bay Regional Council are partnering with the Wairoa District Council on this project," he said.
Hawke's Bay Regional Councillor for Wairoa Fenton Wilson is a strong supporter of the project. "The regional council has been actively working with the Whakakī community for the last 5 years to reduce erosion in the catchment and through fencing and planting of waterways and improving water quality in Lake Whakakī. This initiative, along with working closely with MPI and Wairoa District Council, will provide a real boost to efforts to improve the sustainability and wellbeing of the Whakakī community and wider Wairoa district," he said.
Mr Dalton said the initiative involved interviews and workshops with key locals who live around the catchment to define the issues, prioritise local needs and generate ideas and develop solutions for potential implementation. The ideas will then be written up into a business case to highlight the viability of the initiatives.
"What we're looking to do with the local community is ambitious but if we work together should be achievable. We want to ensure that the initiatives developed reflect the interest of locals. We have some ideas but it's up to the local community to decide what needs to be done," says Mr Dalton.
The Regional Growth Programme is co-led by MPI and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and aims to increase jobs, income and investment in regional New Zealand.