Pānui/Newsletter March 2021
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A measure of health for Te Waihī Estuary Catchment, will be when giant pīpī are healthy and thriving at the river mouth, safe to eat all of the time, and native aquatic fauna like the giant kōkopu are thriving the full length of the arterial waterways that feed into Te Waihī, from the Volcanic Plateau to the sea. 


From the Chair: Andre Hickson
From the Catchment: Alison Dewes
Introducing Tom Anderson
Launch Event (coming soon)
The Challenge ahead
Subcatchment Groups - Upper, Mid, LowerDrinking Water Testing

Replenishing the Whenua
Minimising the impact on waterways
Best Practice and Innovation
Overseer Files - fully funded in 2021

From the Chair: Andre Hickson

Welcome to Issue 2 of the Wai-Kōkopu pānui. At last I can report we are making real strides in getting Wai Kōkopu Inc up and running.  We have funding lines in place with MPI with clear targets  for what we are trying to achieve – milestones!
We have employed Alison Dewes and Tom Anderson who you may meet in the near future. We have a board that is enthusiastic in achieving practical outcomes and reflects the diversity in the catchment.

Work plans have been designed with one clear over arching objective – improve the quality of water in the Waihī Estuary after generations of management that have contributed to its demise.

This is an inclusive exercise from the top of the catchment to the bottom, all landowners whether they be forestry owners, dairy farmers, kiwifruit orchardists or “life stylers”. We encourage you all to consider how you might help in achieving our goal.

Andre Hickson - CHAIR

From the Catchment: Alison Dewes

Things are tracking well with nine Lighthouse Farms having data collected and being processed, to provide valuable baseline information on nutrient losses, and identifying mitigation actions required to restore the health of Te Waihī Estuary.

In the next few months we will collect a lot more data.
In June 2021 we will start reporting to you via both social media and the website, and launch some case studies of what we have found and what has been funded and started, in our first four to five months.


Introducing ... Tom Anderson

We are pleased to welcome our new restoration manager, Tom Anderson.

Tom is trained in Marine and Biological Sciences and lives on a farm in Katikati where his family has an orchard.

A keen enthusiast for the outdoors, Tom is familiar with linking sustainability goals back to the land we are farming.
Tom will be focusing on environmental plans for farmers and subcatchment groups, providing support and encouragement. 

Launch Event

We are excited about holding our launch event in the next few months. We will confirm the dates in the next issue of the Wai Kōkopu Pānui / Newsletter (the last Wednesday in April) if not before.  At the event, we'll give you some early results of our findings, and get your feedback about what more you would like to see happening in the catchment.

The Challenge ahead

This table demonstrates the scale of the issue we face across our catchment, if we are to restore it to moderate health – as a start.

It reminds us of the challenge - the change that will be required: 66% drop in Nitrogen, 30% drop in Phosphorus, and 50% drop in E. coli.

Subcatchment Groups

There are going to be four subcatchment groups operating this year: Upper Catchment (Kaikokupu), Mid Catchment (Pongakawa), Lower Catchment (Puanene), and a Pukehina-Estuarine Monitoring Group. We will be inviting key people to be involved shortly.

We have just completed a full catchment water monitoring plan and this will guide the subcatchment monitoring groups along with the mitigations required from each subcatchment. This will eventually include best practices for farms or landholdings to reduce effects coming from their areas.

Upper Catchment

Potentially detainment bunds, retiring steep slopes, reducing erosion, and stock exclusion from vulnerable areas.

Left: Robyn Denholm and Brad Strange.

Mid Catchment

Focus on management of sediment and E.coli loss, best management practice for effluent management and offal holes, and a real focus on nitrogen, phosphorus use and losses.

Lower Catchment

Will require a close focus on managing wet areas, management of pathogens, (E. coli risk of loss) and nitrogen and phosphorus management.

Right: Working with Wally Lee from MPI, on Māori-owned land in the catchment.

Drinking Water Testing

We are also testing shallow bores, surface water, and deep bores for nitrates.
This is on the radar with the three waters reforms. We can gather a lot of data across the catchment and begin to make sense of what is happening.

Replenishing the Whenua

James Burke is transitioning a farm originally functioning as an intensive maize growing enterprise, to a regenerating farm system. Check out the start of his journey in this video as James tries to reduce the farm's reliance on nitrogen and phosphorus fertiliser, and trials different species that not only repair the soil but also minimise the unnecessary spillover of N and P into the receiving waterways and shallow aquifers.

Minimising the impact on waterways

Our project team is working well with the Water Policy group at Zespri, working out how we can combine our science, our learnings, and provide good farm management help for growers. The Wai Kokopu Programme, is fortunate to have enough funding to get onto quite a few farms, procure information and work out ways to provide meaningful guidelines for the farmers and orchardists, to minimise their impact on the receiving waterways and estuary.  Kiwifruit picking is underway now, so lets hope it all goes smoothly. 
Pictured: Carlos Jacome (MPI), Alison Dewes and Andre Hickson doing a tour of the Pax- Hickson Orchard.

Best Practice and Innovation

Since our last newsletter we have continued to seek extra funding for the catchment group. This is still ongoing.

We are focused on more water quality testing, better science and farm management communications so that we can all be talking the same language about what will heal the estuary.

There are many pressures on the estuary, but the key areas of concern are nutrients, sediment and pathogens. Our next key focus is working with Zespri, Fonterra, and industry groups to make sure everyone is on the same page with Farm Environment Plans, and that the KPIs make sense - from inside the farm gate and directly to the estuary and the sea. 

These discussions will include: nitrogen loss from the root zone (shallow soil level); nitrogen concentration in groundwater leaving the property and in shallow bores and in drains; phosphorus use and losses from farms, and the risk of phosphorus loss, sediment loss, management of soil disturbance, and streambank erosion.

As well as increased monitoring, we will also provide much more support for restoration, for understanding how to reduce losses from farm systems, and also, ensuring there is a win-win for every move.

Pictured: Where Pukehina Canal meets the Pongakawa River
Saving the Estuary and the Planet should not cost the earth!  In fact, our early work on the farm plan modelling is demonstrating that we can achieve up to 30-40 % reductions in nutrients, with no harm to farm profit. It is about understanding what levers to pull.

Overseer Files - fully funded in 2021

We are doing Overseer files on another 25 farms in the next few months. Please let us know if you want to understand your Nitrogen LEACHING and LOAD to the Estuary.  This is FULLY FUNDED this year.  

Paul Hickson helps Rachel Mudge Tipuwhenua to identify the orchard blocks and fertiliser applied, and allocate costs to different management areas.
Kiri Tapsell works alongside Rachel Mudge identifying the management blocks, while preparing an overseer file.
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