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Funding boost for Te Awarua-o-Porirua harbour

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Porirua’s precious harbour, Te Awarua-o-Porirua, received a multi-million dollar boost today with the launch of a transformational project to improve the water quality of the city’s streams and waterways.

Porirua City Council, in partnership with Ngāti Toa and Sustainable Coastlines, is implementing a streamside planting and management project throughout the Porirua district. The 20-year project aims to plant more than 6 million plants on the banks of the 588km of streams that run into the harbour, to help restore the mauri of Te Awarua-o-Porirua and its waterways.

At the launch today, Environment Minister David Parker announced the Government would commit $3 million to the project over five years, as part of its Jobs for Nature programme. Council will invest $4.8 million and Sustainable Coastlines are also financial contributors.

Minister Parker said the project demonstrated a catchment-wide approach to riparian management and freshwater restoration that would deliver a strong improvement in water quality.

“This project ticked all the boxes when it came to winning Government funding,” he said.

“It is prioritising community engagement, it has a wide range of project partners, and it will create local employment opportunities as well as improving water quality in the Porirua harbour that the community wants and the harbour needs.”

Porirua Mayor Anita Baker welcomed the investment into a project that would make a big difference to a harbour that had faced challenges.

“As we watch our city grow, our harbour faces more pressure from sediment and contamination, and the time to act is now,” she said.

“Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbour is a taonga, of great significance to Ngāti Toa and our city as a whole. A healthy harbour is a strategic priority for the council and an aspiration for us all.

“This project, and the substantial funding investment, recognises the value of our harbour and allows us to focus on solutions and a better future for our waterways. This is truly a community project and we’re excited to see it underway.”

The collaborative work being embarked on was a step forward for Ngāti Toa’s aspirations to restore the mauri of Te Awarua-o-Porirua, as outlined by Ngāti Toa Chief Executive Helmut Modlik.

“Before I see out my days it is my wish and the right of our people that we once again enjoy the gift of fresh kai from our harbour and swim in clean healthy waterways. Toitū te Marae o Tāne, Toitū te Marae o Tangaroa, Toitū te Iwi - protect and strengthen the realms of the Land and Sea, and they will protect and strengthen the people”.

Nigel Clarke, Manager Harbour and Resource Recovery, said improving the health of the district’s streams will have a direct impact on the health of the harbour by reducing the pathogens, excessive nutrients, and sediment going into it.

As part of the project Council and partners had co-designed a GIS-based system to gather and analyse large amounts of data, which is then used to prioritise and manage the work programme, he said.

“For every stream in Porirua, we now know exactly what is needed to restore it to health and how much it is going to cost. This is powerful, and an exciting development in actioning this strategic priority.

“A key outcome is that through this approach, and the funding support, we’ve cut the time it’ll take to reach our goal more than in half – from 43 years to 20 years.

“This is great news for the harbour we all hold dear”.

7 Apr 2022