Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Porirua pots top planting award

A Porirua City project aiming 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 City Council’s Streamside Planting 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, with the ambitious 20-year goal of planting more than six 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.”

Manager Harbour and Resource Recovery, Nigel Clarke 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,” said Mr Clarke.

“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 engagement of the community in the project.

“The results are impressive,” the judges 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… 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.”

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