Hon Shane Jones, Minister of Forestry
The One Billion Trees Fund is providing a boost of up to $5 million to the East Cape to address key environmental issues in the Waiapu Catchment, Forestry Minister Shane Jones has announced.
Led by Whakaoratia te mana o te Waiapu – a partnership between Te Wiwi Nati Trust and Te Riu o Waiapu Trust Partnership – a package of four projects will be delivered over the next ten years.
“With support from the One Billion Trees Fund, this partnership is a significant step forward to restoring and future proofing one of East Cape’s most rapidly eroding catchments,” Shane Jones said.
“We have a duty to communities in ‘at risk’ catchments like the Waiapu to do more. If nothing is done, there will be significant social, economic and environmental costs for the community.
“The projects include the construction of a series of debris dams across the Waiapu catchment, a river corridor project, establishment of a nursery to support riparian planting, and capacity building of employees in the region.
“Through these projects, we will see erosion control and better water quality, protection of the catchment, and social and economic gains for iwi and landowners,” Shane Jones said.
The Gisborne District Council will also provide a $1 million in-kind contribution to the project.
For the Te Wiwi Nāti Trust and Te Riu o Waiapu Trust Partnership, this funding means they can protect their land for future generations, Trust representative Hilton Collier said.
“We are appreciative of the contributions from Government and Gisborne District Council to elevate the work of whanau and hapu with this generous koha.
“As kaitiaki and mana whenua of the Waiapu, our duty is to ensure we build on the legacy of our tipuna and to leave our land and water for the benefit of our descendants,” Mr Collier said.
The Waiapu Catchment
The Waiapu River has the highest amount of sediment per volume of any river in New Zealand and one of the highest in the world.
Approximately 8 hectares of productive flats are lost annually to erosion. If nothing is done, it would have cost approximately $28 million in lost productive returns and land by 2028.
On top of this, if erosion remains untreated in key areas, models suggest there is the potential for current erosion and sedimentation to double by 2050.
The catchment would experience even greater physical damage, the area's agricultural production would decline, and social deprivation would worsen.