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Millions to help restore our urban waterways

Friday 18 February, 2022.

A multi-million dollar project described as a “good news story for Gisborne” will significantly improve urban waterways and bring jobs to our region.

The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) announced this week it will grant $2.25 millon of the $4.95 million project called Restoring the Mauri and Ora of the Tūranganui Estuary System.

Council will contribute the balance through existing budgets.

The project starts now and will be complete by the end of June 2026. It’s set to bring jobs to Tairāwhiti and significantly enhance our urban stream networks that drain into the Tūranganui estuary – this includes the Taruheru, Waikanae, and Waimata waterways.

Council Chief of Strategy and Science Joanna Noble says, “We are delighted that MfE has agreed to support this project, which will use mātauranga Māori and western science to help restore the mauri and ora of the Tūranganui estuary system.”

Council partnered with the KIWA Group (tangata whenua technical reference group) to make a joint application to MfE’s Freshwater Improvement Fund (FIF) last year.

KIWA Chairman Ian Ruru says this project is a good news story for Gisborne.

“Our urban rivers have long been treated like drains and dumps or have just been neglected.

“This project will help to reverse that scenario and also aligns well with our consent condition ‘to improve the water quality and mauri of Tūranganui-a-Kiwa”.

In partnership with Council, the KIWA group invested a lot of time and support into the application.

Mr Ruru says numerous wānanga with hapū and marae were held to ensure the voice and aspirations of mana whenua were included.

“Like New Zealand’s first mortuary waste bylaw, this project will build upon positive partnerships between tangata whenua, Council and the wider community.”

By the end of the project in June 2026, around 170,000 native plants would have been used in wetland and riparian planting. This means erosion-prone areas will be stabilised and the wetlands will absorb stormwater contaminants before they get into our Taruheru, Waikanae and Waimata waterways.

The project will also remove pest plants and animals, barriers to fish passage and improve fish spawning habitats.

Ms Noble says the project, in partnership with mana whenua, will work with community and stakeholder care groups, local schools and kura.

“There will be planting days, and a focus on providing opportunities for the community to reconnect with these waterways.

“We will also hold wānanga and workshops to enable the wider community to both input and gain an understanding of mātauranga Māori and how it is applied to stream restoration.”

“This estuarine system is at the heart of Gisborne, a major location for water recreation and has high cultural significance.”