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Te Hiku Iwi Launch Puna Wai Ora Programme For The Drought Stressed Region

In May 2021 the Government announced investment of $8 million for a three-year innovative Iwi-led initiative to improve the resilience of Te Hiku whānau during drought. The installation of water tank systems will impact many vulnerable whānau to have access to clean drinking water across the Te Hiku region. The roll out of the Puna Wai Ora Drought Relief Programme will be led by Te Aupōuri Iwi Development Trust. The initiative aims to improve whānau drought resilience and provide local employment and skills opportunities.

Te Hiku Iwi Development Trust and Te Aupōuri Chair Rhonda Kite says: “Our whānau have had to endure some of the most severe and prolonged drought conditions, leading to water shortages, restrictions and many households facing the exorbitant cost of tank refills and water purchases. We know climate change is only going to get worse, not better, therefore installing water tanks for our most vulnerable whānau is only part of the solution. Puna Wai Ora will help increase water conservation practices and amplify the traditional histories of our water sources so our communities can deepen their appreciation of our precious wai māori, which is vital for the survival of our whānau, hapū and iwi”.

Te Rarawa Chairman Haami Piripi adds “we know how hard it has been for our marae and families to cope with ensuring continued access to water. We have many of our relations reliant on their local streams, drip feeds from their roofs, store bought water or even praying for rainfall for survival. Having these state-of-the-art water tanks installed will have a positive ripple effect, whānau will be in a better position to share their water resource with their neighbours, our marae can be a central water source for the kāinga close by and our communities can be in a position to sustain themselves when droughts hit”. Piripi continues; “the economic benefit of having local kaimahi, plumbers, builders and installers will mean Puna Wai Ora putting extra pūtea into our local businesses, that will be a quadruple social impact multiplier for Te Hiku and whānau households”.

The pilot phase, which starts this week, will begin with the team reaching out to whānau.

These whānau will be invited to engage in an initial phone interview. Site assessments will be undertaken by local whānau connectors and infrastructure partners. The aim is for 30 homes to receive water tank systems during this pilot phase. In March 2022, the main works programme will be activated. The main work programme will continue over the next three years delivering water tank installations across the region. This will allow eligible whānau throughout Te Hiku to apply to the Puna Wai Ora Drought Relief programme.

This initiative is the result of the tremendous amount of work behind the scenes between National Emergency Management Agency, Te Aupōuri and the Te Hiku Iwi Development Trust.

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