Wairarapa Water Resilience Strategy

He puna manawa, he manawa whenua!

He manawa whenua, he manawa ora!

He manawa whenua, he manawa tū!

He manawa whenua, he manawa tangata! 

A spring of water from the heart of Papatūānuku

An eternal spring of water, unfailing

An eternal spring supports life

An eternal spring supports longevity

An eternal spring supports eternal well-being

Credit:Pete Monk

FOREWORD

The October 2018 Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan said that “an optimum and integrated view of water is required” when referring to water use in Wairarapa. It said: “The opportunity is to address these issues in an integrated manner now while there is time, to avoid being forced into urgent action when time is compressed”.

Climate change is arguably the major threat of our age. It also presents significant opportunities, but we will only grasp those if we address the climate change challenges head-on.

It was with this thinking in mind that the idea of this Wairarapa Water Resilience Strategy (WWRS) was initiated by a local water user group who convened a meeting of farmers, industry users and local council representatives at a meeting in November 2018 and another in January 2019. The group was joined by the local council mayors, the Chair and Wairarapa members of Greater Wellington Regional Council and Iwi leaders of the Rangatāne and Kahungunu Settlement Trusts. Later, members with an environmental interest and the Chair of the Whaitua joined.

Concurrently funding was made available to Wairarapa Water Ltd by the Provincial Growth Fund for a feasibility of a storage scheme at Wakamoekau. It was believed by those involved that a broader catchment-level resilience strategy was required to address the broader climate change issues. The WWRS Group was formed - a large group representing many interests including councils, iwi, land users, commercial interests, sector and advocacy groups. WellingtonNZ acted as the overseeing agency and I was pleased to be asked to chair the WWRS Group, extending from my role as chair of the Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy.

It was clear to me that successful water resilience would only happen if all interests in the community worked together. As a result, we took an inclusive approach and while it resulted in much intense debate, the result is a broad consensus about what needs to be done. The direction and approach pointed to in the Strategy provides an effective vehicle which will evolve over time. The important thing is to get started.

I would like to thank all those involved in the Strategy Group for their contribution and patience, their openness and willingness to discuss and debate. The patronage of the mayors/chair and councils has been vital and all have stayed the course. The iwi contribution has been significant and have actively assisted us reflect their views and priorities. I hope a co-governance management model will ensure their full participation over the years to come. This could not have been completed without the funding and in-kind support from the PGF and the councils, including the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

It’s a big read, but a worthwhile one. The Executive Summary overviews the thread of the Strategy and the Addenda contain a lot of background information that helped build the arguments. The result is a piece of thinking of the scale required to address an issue as complex as climate change.

The journey now begins.

Dame Margaret Bazley ONZ, DMNZ

Chairperson of the Wairarapa Water Resilience Strategy Group May 2021

Photo credit: Pete Monk