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Planting project takes out top award

220709 YL Waitangirua Planting-6

A Porirua City project which aims to restore the health of Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbour has taken out the top award at the 2022 Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) Awards.

Porirua’s Streamside Planting Programme is a transformational project to improve the water quality of the city’s streams and waterways.

At tonight's award ceremony, the Porirua City Council programme won the Air New Zealand EXCELLENCE Award for Environmental Wellbeing, ahead of finalists from Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Rangitikei, Rotorua Lakes and Tauranga City councils. The council then went on to win the Fulton Hogan overall Local EXCELLENCE Award, selected from all finalists.

The Streamside Planting Programme was launched in April, in partnership with Ngāti Toa and Sustainable Coastlines. Over 20 years the goal is to plant more than 6 million plants on the banks of the 588km of streams that run into the harbour.

Central Government has committed $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.

Porirua City Council Chief Executive Wendy Walker welcomed the award, which she said reflected the focus and effort the city was putting into restoring the harbour.

"Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbour is a taonga, of great significance to Ngāti Toa and to all of Porirua," Ms Walker said. "By improving the health of the harbour, we restore its mauri which is something we all aspire to. This is why we have harbour health as one of the council’s strategic priorities."

The programme has a strong partnership focus, and the community will play a key role in its long-term success, by joining planting events or through streamside management on their own properties.

"This is truly a community effort, so we’re delighted to see it get this recognition. The city has a unified goal, and together we can make it happen," Ms Walker said.

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 co-designed a GIS-based system to gather and analyse large amounts of data, which is 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".

The judging panel praised Porirua’s streamside project for its clever use of information and evidence, and engaging the community in the 20-year project.

"The results are impressive," they said. "They have used the evidence well and combined with community partnerships. The outcome is strengthening sustainability.

"A lot of other councils could use this approach," they said. Porirua’s 20-year project has already attracted $3 million in government funding, with the council way ahead of its targets in millions of stream plantings.

To get involved in a community planting event, keep an eye on our website.

22 Jul 2022