April Newsletter 2024

Collaboration & Partnership

Community Catchment Plan

Community Wellbeing

Economic Wellbeing



Healthy Ecosystems

Risks to our Catchment

Rural Development

Take Action

Te Taiao


Urban Development

WAI Action Groups

water action initiative april 2024 - upper clutha biodiversity strategy
As the cold sets in, our April newsletter is here to bring some warmth to your day. Packed with community news, upcoming initiatives and the introduction of three new team members here at WAI – one of which may or may not live in our local waterways…

Welcoming WAI’s new Chair and Chief Executive Officer

We are excited to announce a new chapter on our journey with the appointment of John Rodwell as Chairperson and Marissa Adelstein as Chief Executive Officer here at WAI.

John has extensive experience in the primary sector, both in corporate finance and governance, as well as national science work supporting the sector. His leadership skills and belief in community-driven initiatives promises positive impacts for WAI, our communities and the local environment. 

John takes on the role of Chair from our previous leader and Co-founder of WAI, Mandy Bell, who has played a crucial role in shaping our journey over the last seven years.

We’re equally thrilled to introduce Marissa as our Chief Executive Officer. She brings over 13 years of experience in business development and strategic leadership in the sustainability and agriculture sectors.

“I am grateful and excited to embark on this journey with our local communities. Together, I believe we can accelerate community action for fresh water and deliver enduring environmental solutions for generations to come.” – Marissa

drains are streams banner with new mascot - eels

Fostering connections with local species

Our friends at Fabricate have created an amazing tuna / longfin eel puppet for our education team here at WAI, made entirely from recycled fabrics. She has been named Pīata, the Te Reo Māori word for shine or shiny

We’ll be taking Pīata along for our Drains are Streams sessions and local events. She’ll be helping us connect communities with the freshwater species that live amongst us in local waterways. Reducing stormwater pollution entering our lakes and rivers is a key theme for Pīata.

A huge thank-you goes out to Estelle and the team at Fabricate for bringing our shared vision to life, as well as the Findex Foundation for supporting our initiative.

WAI staff play with their newest mascot - an eel puppet!

All hands on deck for neighbourhood Adopt a Drain session in Hāwea

We are still buzzing from the great turnout in Hāwea for our most recent Adopt a Drain session – a record number of 15 attendees!

Hawea community showing up to learn more about WAI's adopt a drain initiative in Wanaka and surrounding areas

This engaged group of neighbours came together for the half hour workshop, which included a look into their storm drain network, practical tips for reducing stormwater pollution, and the exciting drilling in of a steel carving (known as ‘beasties’) onto their street’s drains.

The Adopt a Drain momentum continues with three more neighbourhoods signed up to adopt their drains in May. 

Big thanks to our friends at Touchstone for their support on this initiative.

Speaking of stormwater… our latest Adopt a Drain Newsletter – Autumn Edition is now live on our website. This season we’re keeping things simple with an easy action we can all get behind.

Restoring the Upper Clutha banner

Uniting for native biodiversity

What might native biodiversity look like in the Upper Clutha in 100 years time? 

person walking on a tree

The Upper Clutha Biodiversity Strategy serves as a framework for the catchment, where native biodiversity helps define who we are, what we do, and where we enjoy ourselves. It is a tool for guiding actions, obtaining long-term funding, and bringing groups and conservation efforts together at a strategic level.

We’d like to thank the many organisations and individuals involved in shaping the strategy into what it is today. (Un)paving the way together towards a future where native biodiversity thrives.

Emeritus Professor David Norton has been a key lead in the development of the Upper Clutha Biodiversity Strategy. He sat down with Rural Exchange (REX) to chat about the strategy, as well as the importance of working with farmers on the ground to achieve biodiversity-related goals.

Professor David Norton podcast on Spotify about Rural Exchange and Upper Clutha Biodiversity Strategy

rural update wanaka upper clutha banner

We had an epic two weeks on-farm with Year 8s of Te Kura o Tititea / Mount Aspiring College as part of Embracing te Taiao – On the Farm. These tamariki and rangatahi got their hands dirty in the soil and left each trip with cups full of inspiring stories from our rural communities.

Big thanks to the landowners and organisations involved for providing this opportunity for the future generation of our communities:

Rippon Vineyard, Te Kākano Aotearoa Trust, Ben Elms/Dr.Compost, Mt. Grand Station, Lincoln University, Lake Hāwea Station, Black Peak Farming, Red Bridge Berries, Forest Lodge Orchard, Alphaburn Station and the Wānaka Catchment Group. 

Stay tuned for our upcoming blog highlighting each trip!

Have your say in ORC’s Long Term Plan 

Otago Regional Council is proposing some big changes to public transport, environmental funding and how they rate. With future opportunities and challenges in mind, ORC has prepared the draft Long Term Plan 2024-34 which sets the direction, identifies key work programmes for the next 10 years and explains the rates implications for the work proposed. 

otago regional council poster - draft long term plan

The Plan is now open for your feedback. Find out more about what’s proposed and have your say by attending one of ORC’s drop-in events or submitting feedback online by the 28th of April. 


community events with WAI Wanaka banner

Get involved in our upcoming events this month

22 April 4pm-5pmOut on the roto visual clarity workshop email kelly@waiwanaka.nz for more info.

23 April 11am-1pm: Planting at Kirimoko Bike Trails with WORD  

24 April 1pm-3pmLakefront clean-up near Dinosaur Park 

27 April 10am-12pm: Autumn planting with Te Kākano 

29 April 11am-12pmOut on the roto visual clarity workshop email kelly@waiwanaka.nz for more info.