TE TAIAO: Our Environment

Waikanae ki Uta ki Tai Project 


Our Pou Takawaenga Taiao, Mayor Guru and other community representatives met with the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage to propose she support the development of an action plan for the Waikanae River as a model for river conservation

On the 5th of March 2019, the Minister of Conservation announced that the Waikanae River had been chosen as one of 14 priority river catchments across Aotearoa. From this announcement, the Waikanae ki Uta ki Tai Project has been developed to facilitate expansion of catchment conservation work through a collaborative process to restore the Waikanae catchment to a state of mouri ora. 

The Waikanae ki Uta ki Tai project is a partnership between Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai (ĀKW), Department of Conservation (DOC), Kāpiti Coast District Council (KCDC), and Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC). The project will utilize the ‘Tiriti House Model’ as a framework that sets out key principles to inform these partnership arrangements.

To date, Ātiawa Ki Whakarongotai have appointed John Barrett as our representative on the Project’s Governance Group and four iwi Pou have been appointed to the Steering Committee of the Project. This decision-making committee will have equal representation of mana whenua and tauiwi, reflecting a true partnership model.

The Board selected Pou who have a long-standing history of experiences and relationships with te awa o Waikanae that they bring to this forum. They will draw from these to help guide their process going forward. The purpose of the Steering Committee will be to develop key objectives for the awa, and oversee the implementation of an Awa Action Plan. In the first instance, the Pou will be focused on determining if ĀKW and the broader community can identify shared objectives and principles that they can then commit to in this Awa Action Plan, an outcome to support future management and monitoring within the catchment.

Ko wai ngā Iwi Pou Tiak: 

Bill Carter

Matua Bill has a long-standing and continuing interest in both freshwater and marine ecology. For many years, he has served his iwi in various capacities, including a long involvement as a Director of the Iwi Fisheries Asset Holding Company and as a member of the Water Working Group in partnership with Kāpiti Coast District Council (KCDC). He is currently a member of the Environmental Committee for Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai Charitable Trust, through which he also represents the iwi on Te Ūpoko Taiao, and in the recent triennium, the Natural Resource Management Committee of Greater Wellington Regional Council, and the Strategy and Planning Committee of KCDC.

Through his involvement in the Water Working Group, Matua Bill was a leader in developing the Waikanae River Recharge Project, through which groundwater is used to recharge the Waikanae River takes that are utilised for drinking water supply on the Kāpiti Coast. His involvement in the design of this project was targeted to ensure that the quality of water discharged into the Waikanae River at times when the River may be stressed is of better quality than the water in the River at the time. Matua Bill has also taken a strong interest in the treatment and discharge of water into Tributaries of the Waikanae River.

Sharlene Maoate-Davis

Sharlene has always lived within the reaches of the Waikanae river. As a child, she recalls her grandfather gathering patiki or flounder whose tails would later protrude from a large skillet pan.  Over time, she observed the abundance of kai that could be gathered by her father, Tony Davis who had learned and often advocated for the preservation of tikanga along the awa into the sea channel known as Te Rau-o-te-rangi.

Sharlene’s own relationship to the awa comes in another form.  As an Iwi Rongoā practitioner, Sharlene has learned the importance of te awa o Waikanae, as a living entity, whose mouri is vitally important in the healing of the land and its people.   Mouri Ora, requires a continued observation of rituals and practices that respect, maintain and revitalise the balancing of life-force energies within the awa.  Hence the maintenance and resurgence of inter-generational connections, customary knowledge, stories and activity along the awa is critically important for future generations who will inherit ‘kaitiakitanga’ of the Waikanae river.  

Sharlene has  a background in Māori health, social services and education.  She has owned and operated her own local business for the past 18 years.  She is a facilitator of local and regional Rongoā workshops and until 2019 co-designed and delivered the Diploma in Rongoā for Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. 

Sharlene is a Pou Rongoā, a senior practitioner delivering the CCDHB contracted Rongoā services for the Rongoā Collective of the ART Confederation and Te Runanga o Toa Rangatira. 

Sharlene is currently the Co-chair of Te Mauri Tuhono ki Te Upoko o Te Ika, who is a collaborative working group who has been tasked with developing the Kaipupuri Taonga framework on regional Biodiversity for the Wellington Region, which is in partnership with DOC and the Wellington Regional Council.  She  has also represented the region, as Trustee for Te Kāhui Rongoā Trust, the national body for Rongoā Māori.  

Les Mullen

“My heart is the awa and the awa is me.”

Matua Les has a strong connection to the Waikanae River as one of its most passionate kaitiaki and fisherman. Matua Les plays several important roles for Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai (ĀKW), including Trustee of Takamore Urupā, provider of mahinga kai (traditional food) for Whakarongotai Marae, and as a Kaitiaki Monitor for ĀKW Charitable Trust, monitoring the health of tuna and watercress throughout the tribal area of ĀKW.

Matua Les has a relationship with all the waterways in the tribal area of ĀKW, which started for him as a child playing and learning to fish different areas using different techniques, and lead him to be taught by local elders such as Uncle Manny, until he eventually became known as a key food gatherer for his community.

Matua Les is an avid whitebaiter, and also loves fishing the tuna heke. He has a strong interest in carrying on traditional practices that will ensure the future sustainability of our local fisheries, and regularly supports Hui Rangatahi, or Marae-based youth camps, where he passes on his knowledge and skills to the future generation of the iwi.

Rawhiti Higgott

Ra’s relationship with the awa reflects his role as kaitiaki, which includes caring for its spiritual and physical wellness. This relationship with the awa goes back to his childhood days over 60 years ago and the times he spent on the awa either eeling with his uncle or learning how to swim. He spent much of the summer with whānau of Waikanae at the awa, catching cockabillies, gathering watercress or pūhā and collecting an abundance of blackberries. He would say they all use to go ‘quite black’ from the amount of time they would spend at the awa. 

“I taught my children and grandchildren how to swim in the awa and I spend the summer with my moko down at the awa. I walk the river walk track often to keep my fitness up and am always on the lookout for anything happening on the awa. I am quite knowledgeable on the ngahere (forest) that is along the awa and also the manu (birdlife) that are attracted by the flowering trees. I’ve noticed changes in the river from my time as a child, it’s not so deep as it was back then.” 

“I live close by the awa. On different days when I am walking the awa, the sounds of the wind and rain give different messages and sounds like they are talking to the awa. It’s amazing.”

Ngā Kaimahi:

Pou Takawaenga Taiao: Mahina-a-Rangi Baker

Mahina-a-rangi Baker, our Pou Takawaenga Taiao, is the Iwi Project Manager for Waikanae ki uta ki tai and will be part of the group’s secretariat. In her six years working for Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai, much of her day-to-day and project work has revolved around kaitiakitanga of the Waikanae River. She worked with Mayor Guru and other key community members to propose the project to the Minister of Conservation as a means of integrating the planning and care work for the awa. She recently completed her PhD in Resource and Environment Planning, which was also an iwi-focused project on Māori modelling and the kaitiakitanga of water.

Mahina-a-rangi is a lecturer for the Kaitiakitanga Pūtaiao Degree at Te Wānanga o Raukawa where she enjoys teaching other emerging kaitiaki from across the country. She also works at the national level in water policy development, including through her role on the Kāhui Wai Māori, a forum that advises the Minister for the Environment on freshwater reform and policy development.

Aaria Dobson-Waitere

Aaria Dobson-Waitere is an Environmental Consultant and has been brought on to provide secretariat support to the project. She has a Masters in Conservation Biology, and a background in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) which she uses to support iwi, hapū and whānau to map their own traditional knowledge in a contemporary platform.

Kaitiakitanga of the taiao is Aaria’s passion and this is reflected in her working roles. She is currently working part time at Zealandia – Te Māra a Tāne as the Kaitiaki Ranger in the conservation team. Aaria also works on several other projects with a wai Māori focus, including as an iwi representative for Taranaki Whānui on the Wellington Whaitua process, a project to improve water quality in Te Whanganui-a-Tara.

To support the kaupapa of succession planning, there will be standing rangatahi seats on the Steering Committee whereby rangatahi can function as observers, providing them with opportunities to get exposure into decision-making processes in line with the principles of Te Tiriti.If you would like to know more about the Waikanae ki Uta ki Tai Project, please contact wkukt@teatiawakikapiti.co.nz

An update on changes to our Taiao Unit from Dr. Mahina-a-rangi Baker, Pou Takawaenga Taiao.

For some time now our Trust has been building its capacity and capability in the Taiao space. As our responsibilities and number of projects we are involved in has expanded, it has been a challenge as the Pou Takawaenga Taiao to both deliver specialised technical work that is needed, whilst still managing our growing Taiao Unit.

The Trust therefore have worked hard through reviews of their partnerships with local government to identify how the performance of the Trust and particularly our Taiao Unit can be better supported and identified the need to create a new Taiao Coordinator role.

The responsibilities of the Taiao Coordinator will be to coordinate the delivery of the wide range of Taiao projects and work programmes our Taiao Unit delivers, improve our responsiveness, and ensure appropriate reporting of our work. They will also be leading some important regional planning processes this year. I am thrilled that the Trust has appointed our whanaunga Mel McCormick to this role. It is always great to be connecting our people to our organisation through our work.

I will continue on consulting to the Trust as the Pou Takawaenga Taiao; having a Taiao Coordinator support us will enable me to spend more time providing guidance where required and specialised technical work where needed.

There have been many highlights in my time coordinating the work of the Taiao Unit. Delivering our Iwi Kaitiakitanga Plan, developing our nation leading kaitiaki monitoring and catchment modelling tools through my PhD, and the work that lead to securing $8.5 million dollars for Jobs for Nature in the Waikanae catchment. What I most enjoy however are the opportunities to engage with our whānau and hapū over kaitiaki issues, and through this work learn more about ourselves and each other as an iwi. I only wish I had have been able to get out from behind the desk to spend more time doing this.

I am hoping this change will enable me to spend some more time with my whānau, however I will also be taking a lot of the learnings from our work as Ātiawa into work at the national level: advising on the changes needed in Resource Management Reform, and supporting the implementation of the new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Planning at the national level. Although we are a very small iwi, much of the work we have done is considered to be at the leading edge of Māori resource management, and I must credit our outgoing Board for the support and strength they have offered our team in our work, which has given us the licence to be bold, be creative, and always be authentically and unapologetically us.

Whakarongotai o te moana, Whakarongotai o te wā
As you listen to the tide of the ocean, listen to the tide of the times.

I welcome Mel into this role knowing that she will bring her own special contributions to our Taiao Unit, and indeed to our iwi.

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E te iwi, tēnā hoki tatou,
He uri tēnei o Te Ati Awa ki Whakarongotai,
I te taha o tōku māmā ko te whanau Parata,
Ko Kaitangata tōku hapū,
Ko Whakarongotai tōku marae,
Ko Manny Riikorero Parata raua ko Ivy Parata ōku tupuna,
Ko Melanie McCormick tēnei e mihi ana,
Tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou

It is a great privilege to be coming to work for Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai in the Taiao Unit, as the Taiao Coordinator. This mahi involves providing technical planning advice on behalf of the iwi to tāngata Tiriti to ensure that Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai values, tikanga and aspirations for te taiao are honoured and upheld.

I grew in up Rotorua, and always returned to Kāpiti and Whakarongotai during school holidays and on occasion to be with whānau. It has always felt like home and I have always had a deep yearning to connect to my whenua.  At Massey University, Palmerston North I studied a Bachelor of Resource and Environmental Planning. I have worked for local government as a Policy Planner over the past 5 years, and I am very excited to utilise my skills and experience to help advance our iwi in this space alongside the driven and knowledgeable members of the Trust and Taiao Unit. Moreover, the deep sense of belonging and responsibility I feel for this mahi speaks to my heart and puku.

Whānau can contact me at  taiao@teatiawakikapiti.co.nz

Mauri ora!  Mel