Christchurch Scoop

Constructed Wetland Documentary Released

Press Release – Environment Canterbury

Whakaora Te Ahuriri – A Wetland for Te Waihora has been shown for the first time at the International Wetlands Conference (Intecol).

The documentary, funded by Environment Canterbury and the Government’s Freshwater Improvement Fund and produced by the regional council, celebrates the creation of a constructed wetland in a culturally significant and internationally renowned part of Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Co-Chairs of the Te Waihora Co-Governance Group, Liz Brown (Ngāi Tahu) and Jenny Hughey (Environment Canterbury) said the documentary takes us on the journey to discover the history from mana whenua and settler, the mahi and challenges met, the outcomes of the project and what the future might hold.

“Whakaora Te Ahuriri is an excellent example of traditional knowledge and innovative science coming together, of a culturally-led project, of collaboration and consensus, and of a constructed wetland at landscape scale,” the Co- Chairs said.

Environment Canterbury Councillor Craig Pauling (Ngāi Te Ruahikihiki) narrates the documentary.

In it he says: “Te Ahuriri was a place where his people came together and it was renowned as a significant mahinga kai for Ngāi Tahu. We sold Canterbury to the Crown but reserved our mahinga kai. It didn’t quite work out that way.

“We started writing letters asking for the drainage to stop. We became impoverished in our own landscape. We made claims in court. The judges said no, the land was already privatised. We didn’t give up. Ngāi Tahu led the charge on wanting to see a wetland return. We lodged a claim. We asked the regional council to lead it.

“There was then a process of coming together and working through the design of a constructed wetland. It means upholding the values of a place – the waterways and the species that call these places home. This is a good example of working collaboratively to give mana back to a waterway,” he said.

Liz Brown (Ngāi Te Ruahikihiki) also appears in the documentary. She says the Te Ahuriri project is part of and connected to Te Waihora. “And Te Waihora connects us to our whakapapa and to our pūrākau. So that connects us to our identity.

“In 2014 the Te Waihora Co-Governance Group endorsed a plan for Te Ahuriri created by a wider group. The Whakaora Te Ahuriri project meets all of the aims of Te Mana o Te Wai. Anything that contributes to Te Waihora to me is a good project.”

Donald Couch (Ngāi Tahu – Ngāti Wheke, Environment Canterbury Commissioner 2010-15) says one of the best things that happened in developing the project was that the residents came on board – “farmers from around here”. “There were different focuses but we did our homework,” he says.

Simon Manson, a local farmer who sits on the Ahuriri Lagoon Steering Group, says previous generations farmed like they did because they could.

“A group of us got talking to people in Environment Canterbury and there was a meeting that was well attended by local people. This is definitely a start for us to try and right the wrongs of the past.”

View the documentary.

Content Sourced from
Original url