Formerly New Zealand's High Commissioner to the Cook Islands and MP for the Northland Electorate of New Zealand.


Moving forward together

Thursday 13 July 2017

Our environment needs all of us

Last month Te Runanga-a-Iwi o Ngati Kahu won the Kaitiaki Leadership category of this year's Ministry for the Environment Green Ribbon Awards. Ngati Kahu won this for its outstanding work restoring Lake Waiporohita on the Karikari Peninsula.

Lake Waiporohita is a small dune lake that has become seriously degraded by invasive exotic plants, farm sediment and other environmental issues. Ngati Kahu took a lead in restoring this local taonga.

Today, access to the lake by farm animals is under control with new fences. A weir is addressing sediment inflows and planting is underway around the lake edge. A media campaign to stop vehicles being washed in the lake has built support among the wider community.

Winning a Green Ribbon Award not only recognises the strong leadership role Ngati Kahu has shouldered, it also shows what can be achieved by communities determined to protect and manage resources such as Lake Waiporohita.

Determination, focus and leadership are all vital to get projects like this off the ground and to keep them running month after month, year after year. Eventually, funding will become an issue and many very worthy environmental projects have faltered without this key ingredient.

If your group is facing this dilemma, I urge you to consider applying for the Ministry for the Environment's Community Environment Fund. The next funding round opens on 21 August. If your project is about strengthening partnerships, raising environmental awareness, or encouraging participation in environmental initiatives in the community, you can apply for between $10,000 and $300,000 in funding.

Go to the Ministry for the Environment's website to find out more about the funding criteria. Our environment, and how we protect it, has never been more important. In the Far North we are acutely aware of just how vulnerable we are, especially from the weather. More severe and frequent storms are predicted in coming decades, and for that reason we need to protect our waterways and increase their resilience to deluges and droughts.

Ngati Kahu and many other community-based environmental groups have demonstrated what can be achieved by working together.

Why is this important? Like the rest of New Zealand, we in the Far North rely almost completely on our environment for our livelihoods. Farming, horticulture and tourism are the economic mainstays for Northland. And increasingly for the Far North, tourism is where our future economic wealth will come from.

Recent reports stated that tourism earned Northland an estimated $1.061 billion this year with the Far North taking in $496 million, Whangarei $453m and Kaipara $113m.

The region's total is predicted to grow to more than $1.24 billion a year by 2023. And what do tourists want to experience? Our natural environment, of course. Preserving that treasure is everyone's responsibility. We will all benefit by supporting those efforts wherever we can.



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