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River wānanga to help restore Utuhina

River wānanga to help restore Utuhina

A wānanga this weekend could be the first step in restoring the Utuhina River to its former state as a source of kai and a popular swimming spot.

The Utuhina River Wānanga has been organised by a group of locals including Ohinemutu resident Lani Kereopa, with support from Te Arawa Lakes Trust and funding from Ngāti Whakaue Assets Trust.

It is the first of three wananga planned to help improve water quality in the river, with the goal to see the river returned to a place where kaimoana including koura are present and kids can swim in summer.

Te Arawa Lakes Trust environment manager, Nicki Douglas says the Trust is thrilled to be involved with the wānanga.

“This is about supporting hāpu to work with other agencies and each other, as well as connecting with their own whānau.

“It is great to see communities taking an active role in the kaitiakitanga of the environment and the Trust is pleased to support this where we can.”

Ms Douglas says one of the Trust’s primary objectives is to restore the mauri of the lakes and waterways and a key focus is improving water quality so that we can can “see” the footsteps of the koura in our lakes making this project a perfect fit with the Trust’s values.

“The Trust’s focus is wider than just environmental objectives, with social, economic and cultural objectives a key part of our work and decision making.”

Miss Kereopa says over the last two summers, the river has been deemed unsafe for swimming, which spurred her to do something to clean up the river.

“I grew up beside that river and used to be able to collect kai from it, like koura My daughter, who is nine, has never seen koura in the river. That’s happened in the space of one generation.”

Miss Kereopa says she wants to see things change and is working with a wider group in Ohinemutu and Koutu to find ways to improve it.

She says the aim is to clean up Utuhina from the Lake Rd bridge to the river mouth, and then they would look at working with other groups to extend that work.

Sunday’s wānanga will run from 10am to 4.30pm and involves cleaning up the area, as well as the opportunity for people to capture kōrero on video about what the river means to them, and the stories around the river. There will also be a children’s art project and lunch will be provided.

Utuhina River Wananga
· Sunday August 13, 10am – 4.30pm

· Te Kuirau Marae, Ohinemutu

· Everyone welcome, activities for children provided

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