A series of workshops to identify ways to improve the productivity and sustainability of the Whakaki (Hawke's Bay) catchment are underway with local residents.
"We're partnering with the Whakaki community, including iwi, farmers and foresters to identify a common vision for the future of the catchment and explore opportunities that will work for everyone," says Ben Dalton, who is responsible for regional economic growth at the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
The workshops follow on from a number of Whakaki residents being interviewed by MPI to better understand the local community's future priorities, values and aspirations. The catchment has severe erosion and water quality issues that are impacting on the long-term social, environmental and economic sustainability of the area.
"It's been important to have spent the past couple of months mapping out and analysing what we heard locals say were the real issues in the area and not rely on what we think we know. At the workshops we'll take these insights and help the community prioritise its needs, generate ideas and develop potential solutions," says Mr Dalton.
"While the locals we talked to come from different backgrounds, everyone agrees that something needs to be done. Solutions need a community wide approach while at the same time supporting people's individual goals. The future of the community is intertwined and solutions need to balance the viewpoints of everyone.
"We're looking to build on what has already been done. In time we'll aim to 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.
"We don't know what the future will look like. It's up to the local community to decide, but we do know that now is the right time to make things happen."
The workshops are part of a collaboration between the Ministry for Primary Industries, Hawkes Bay Regional Council and the Wairoa District Council.