Whaitua Committee elects Co-chairs for water work
Te Whanganui-a-Tara Whaitua Committee has elected two ‘Co-chairs’ to reflect the Committee’s commitment to taking a partnership approach with Mana Whenua.
Co-chair Kara Puketapu-Dentice describes this as “an important step forward that acknowledges not only the connection Mana Whenua have to their waterways but also the responsibility we have to ensuring the mana and mauri of the waters is upheld and enhanced for future generations”.
The Co-chairs represent a new wave of leadership as they bring with them youth, diversity, strong networks, significant experience on boards and leading environmental and community initiatives. Their experience and facilitation will be invaluable in launching the Whaitua process forward and ensuring positive outcomes for Wellington’s freshwater bodies.
Co-chair Louise Askin is pleased that the Greater Wellington Regional Council has chosen to take a community-led approach in forming the Whaitua Committee.
“This is our community’s chance to feed into the design of water management in Wellington – something which will impact us all in years to come. We want to hear from individuals, groups, businesses, families, rural landowners and our wider community.”
The primary job of the Whaitua Committee is to develop a Whaitua Implementation Programme – in collaboration with the community. A WIP describes the ways in which people, groups, institutions and government interact with, and manage, their waterways. The word ’whaitua’ means ‘catchment’ or a group of catchments in the Wellington and Hutt Valley region that run from the mountains to the sea.
The WIP will contain recommendations for statutory requirements that will feed into the regional plan and non-statutory requirements for implementation by the Regional Council and others.
Over the next two years, the committee will work with a range of stakeholder organisations, Mana Whenua and communities living in the Hutt Valley, Wainuiomata, Wellington City, and the city’s suburbs and rural areas.
This will help them identify what is needed to support better stewardship of water within their communities and catchments. The Committee will then recommend how Wellington can manage water quality and availability better - in order to meet or exceed ‘bottom lines’ for water quality set out in the Government’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater.
The Whaitua Committee is made up of local community members, Mana Whenua representatives, and representatives from each of the councils in the whaitua.
Both Kara and Louise are committed to leading the Committee through to completion in late 2020 and intend to create a process that brings communities and Councils together in service to our waters and future generations.
Whaitua committees are groups of local people tasked with recommending ways to maintain and improve the quality of our fresh water. Whaitua is the Māori word for space or catchment. The Wellington Region has been split into five whaitua with a committee in each making decisions on the future of land and water management in that whaitua.
The following whaitua committees have been established:
• Ruamāhanga Whaitua – established December 2013
• Te Awarua-o-Porirua Whaitua - established December 2014
• Te Whanganui-a-Tara - established November 2018