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Te Wahapū o Waihī

A message from Te Wahapū o Waihī

Tēnā koutou,

E ngā mana whenua, kei te mihi.

“He oranga te wahapū, he oranga te iwi”

As iwi, we have long understood the connection between people and the taiao and we use this metaphor, a kōrero offered to this project by Muriwai Ihakara in December 2021, to acknowledge the connection of the health of the estuary with the health of the people.

Unfortunately, the Waihī estuary is in an alarming state. With this email we want to update you on the establishment of a roopu that is committed to restoring the mauri of our estuary and the mahi we’ve got planned.

Te raru | The problem

Once a source of plentiful kai for iwi and communities, Waihī Estuary, is now identified as one of the most degraded estuaries in Aotearoa. It is no longer a reliable source of safe, healthy kai and we don’t let our children swim there.

For many years, we, the iwi connected to Waihī, have strongly voiced our concerns about the deteriorated state of the wahapū and surroundings. Decades of wetland drainage, river channelisation, farm and orchard land use intensification, contaminated runoff, a lack of buffers, leaky septic systems, inadequately treated sewage/effluent and pollution from boats have done serious harm to the waterways and estuary.

Kaitiakitanga | Our responsibility

As kaitiaki, it’s our responsibility to look after our whenua and moana. If we want the Waihī estuary to be the abundant mahinga kai (food basket) it once was, urgent action is needed.

That’s exactly why we’ve established the collective Te Wahapū o Waihī, with the roopu developing an iwi-led catchment-wide monitoring, education, restoration and management programme for the Waihī estuary.

Mahi tahi | A strong partnership

Te Wahapū o Waihī consists of five iwi-entities with interests in the Waihī catchment: Ngāti Whakahemo, Ngāti Whakaue ki Maketū, Ngāti Mākino, Ngāti Pikiao and Tapuika. We’ll be working closely with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (BOPRC), the Ministry for the Environment’s Te Mana o Te Wai and The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Our main aim is to work towards a healthy mahinga kai, as an indicator of a thriving Waihī estuary, catchment and community – for now and generations to come. 

Stay tuned as we’re announcing our first official project shortly!

Kia mōhio | Stay updated

Please visit our webpage to find out more and sign up for our newsletter. You can also follow us on Facebook.

Feel free to share this information with other whānau members who may also be interested in what the future of the Waihī estuary looks like.

Ngā mihi nui,

Te Taru White

Independent Chair (Interim)


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