• Media release

15 Aug 2023

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The Waiau Rivercare Group (WRG) has been recognised for its enormous dedication and hard work with a Community Service Award.

Members of WRG were presented with the award by Tuatapere Te Waewae Community Board chair Anne Horrell at the Waiau Town and Country Club, in Tuatapere, on Tuesday 8 August 2023.

The aim of the group is to gain back the Waiau River and improve the ongoing environmental, cultural and social effects affecting the waterway.

In July of this year the group, along with students from Waiau Area School and Hauroko Valley School, won an Environment Court case against Meridian Energy. Due to 95% of the Waiau’s flow being diverted out to the sea, the community is left with just 5%.

Now there will be closer monitoring of the river flows in order to improve the wellbeing of the Waiau.

WRG was founded in 2018 and became the Waiau Rivercare Group Incorporated Society in 2019, initially with the sole purpose of stopping algal bloom and returning the river to a state of ecological health.

The group has worked hard with the community, local schools and playgroups to create an awareness of the Waiau River, the issues it’s facing and the potential state of the river in years to come if nothing changed.

This includes a T-shirt design competition and the creation of a children’s book, their kaitiaki project ‘A collection of works and words from our tamariki about the Waiau. Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au. I am the river and the river is me’. The book has been created to educate tamariki.

Senior students from Waiau Area School have undertaken investigations about where their water ends up and the importance of being environmentally aware.

The group has been petitioning since 2020 for the wellness of the Waiau to be improved, and in 2022 students from both Waiau Area School and Hauroko Valley School, their teachers, and WRG committee members travelled to Parliament to present their case to the Environment Select Committee.

It is believed to be a New Zealand first for children to speak and be heard by a select committee at Parliament.

Anne Horrell acknowledged that “the WRG’s work has been generous and selfless as the Waiau is all of ours; it defines us, as a community, in many ways. It is a beautiful, continuous life force which is part of our whakapapa, along with the Takitimu Mountains and the native bush.”

Paul Marshall, co-chair and one of the founding members of WRG, spoke of the journey to date and said it was wonderful that their presentations to the Environment Court were successful.

Paul Marshall and Christina Vaughan (Co-Chairs of Waiau Rivercare Group) with Tuatapere Te Waewae Community Board Chair, Anne Horrell.

Representatives from the Tuatapere Te WaeWae Community Board (CB), Waiau Rivercare Group (WRG) students from Hauroko Valley Primary School (HVP) and Waiau Area School (WAS). Left to Right: Paul Marshall (Co-Chair WRG), Anne Horrell (CB Chair). Back row: Marilyn Parris (CB), Blayne de Vries (CB and WRG), Wayne Edgerton (CB), Paula McKenzie (CB) Middle row; beside Anne Horrell, Eric McKenzie (WRG), Christina Vaughan (Co-Chair WRG), Claire Marshall Jordan (WRG), Glenys Steele (WRG), Richard Bennett (WRG and WAS).

Students:Lucy Blair-Edie (HVP), Maddi Norman (HVP), Tomas Clarke (HVP), Libby Anderson (HVP), Oli Abbott (WAS), Alyssa Harding (WAS).

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