Knowledge into Action for Te Taiao

Community Wellbeing


Healthy Ecosystems

Jobs For Nature

Mātauranga Māori

Risks to our Catchment

WAI Action Groups

WAI Wānaka has been working with the Upper Clutha community since 2016 to protect and enhance ecosystem health and community wellbeing across rural, urban and tourism sectors. Recently winning the Outstanding Not-for-Profit Award at the Ignite Business Awards in Wānaka and the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Award for Catchment Groups, WAI is pushing forward to enable the community to understand their impact and take action to reduce it.

WAI Wānaka has received funding from the Our Land & Water National Science Challenge to work with landowners, iwi and community in the Upper Clutha to Revitalise Te Taiao – the natural world.

WAI has been supporting landowners to set up catchment groups and facilitate learning across water quality, greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity, in addition to carrying out on-farm environmental work through the Jobs for Nature | Mahi mō te Taiao programme funded by Ministry for Primary Industry.

Ash Rabel, WAI Wānaka, in the Luggate Creek talking about monitoring freshwater health.

The new project will build on the positive work already underway on farms throughout the basin says Mandy Bell, Chair of WAI Wānaka and farmer at Criffel Station, noting that it is the proactive and forward-thinking mindset of landowners in the Upper Clutha that helped secure this funding.

WAI Wānaka is one of three place-based pilots around the country to be selected for this project, which is an $8million two-year programme. Key to this project is the strong emphasis on weaving knowledges together – mātauranga Māori, science, and local landowner knowledge – to inform land use and land management that benefits the environment and identifies value chain and market opportunities.

Lake Hāwea farmer Richard Burdon says ‘The regulatory environment is changing at an unprecedented rate in the rural sector, and with the rising cost of business it is extremely challenging for farmers to stay ahead at the moment. Support to navigate how to implement and track changes on farm and identify potential market opportunities is a real positive for landowners in this area.’

Mandy Bell says, ‘Farmers in this area have been quick to address changes in the primary sector – regular water testing has been happening for at least 2 years across the basin to monitor water quality on farm, the majority of farmers have attended carbon workshops to understand GHG emissions and know their number, and groups are working together to invest in coordinated control of weeds and pests.’

All of these activities are already contributing to Te Taiao – the interconnected system of land, water, climate and living beings. At the outset of this project a detailed survey of farmers will be carried out by Cinta Agri Research to understand current land management practices and technologies that have been adopted and create a benchmark for measuring change throughout the two year project.

From left: Richard Burdon, Fiona Hudson (Cinta Agri Research), Mandy Bell

Mandy Bell comments ‘The exciting part of this project is that it focuses on the opportunities to come from what is a rapidly evolving industry. This survey is critical to understanding how we evolve the project to deliver the best value for the environment, farmers and the community.’

Farmers are doing a lot of positive work towards the environment and this project will assist them to authenticate that work and tell a story of land stewardship that consumers can relate to and have confidence in.

The ’Knowledge into Action for Te Taiao’ project has the Treaty of Waitangi principles at its core – participation, protection and partnership – and building stronger relationships with mana whenua, landowners and the community to move forward together.

For further information on the parent project, visit: Our Land and Water National Science Challenge: Revitalise Te Taiao

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