1.0 Progress update
Another milestone has ticked by incredibly fast. Taranaki Catchment Communities continues to add value around the region.
Technology through LiDAR will support more accurate catchment planning and identifying edge of field techniques supporting reduction of nutrients to water. This will give us far more accuracy. Water usage, effluent mapping/management, and technology to identify water leaks is also beginning in one of our catchments. These types of technologies will ensure that farmers have tools to manage their resources far more efficiently reducing stress and improving environmental outcomes.
Our high-altitude dairy farmers have been put under further pressure with stakeholder Fonterra bringing in a new term that all farms must be spreading effluent to land by June 2025. This is a real challenge for any high rainfall farmer. Our high-altitude catchment community is working to ensure the best solutions for this group. As this group is established it means they have good collaboration with stakeholders including the Taranaki Regional Council. Learnings from this group will also be shared with other high-altitude farmers in the region.
With the devastation of the upper and eastern North Island in the past couple of weeks it is clear that our rural communities need to be set to cope on their own as no government can plan for the size of devastation we have just seen. One of our Catchment groups has been working with Civil defence to become more resilient. We are hoping to use this catchment group as an example across all groups.
I am excited that we have 4 new catchment groups beginning. Two in North Taranaki which will give us more presence there.
It is important that we continue to receive funding from the PLSU fund so we can continue to support the current projects and many more going forward. With new legislation taking effect now there is much to do to educate and support as our rural communities to understand what is expected of them.
In May 2021, Taranaki Catchment Communities was created as an Incorporated Society looking to lead, engage and mobilise Taranaki’s rural sector in the face of mounting legislative changes.
In the one and a half years since TCC was formed, TCC has established 13 community catchment groups all around Mt. Taranaki. It’s had more than 1800 farmers attend community events and committed almost 6,500 volunteer hours to support a range of initiatives.
• 61 workshops/webinars have been organised
• 44 water quality batch testing – multiple sites tested per batch
• 28 farmers with GHG calculations for their farms from TCC supported event. Most have Fonterra or Open Country managers for these, or attended a separate Beef + Lamb workshop
• 6,242 In Kind hours to date with a value of $400,000
More exciting news with the long planned Water2Milk project finally kicking off in the region. For more information on this please look in this link
The TCC website has had a bit of an upgrade with the workplans added and a blog started that outlines some of our major achievements – it is a work in progress as we look to create a more interactive and informative ‘go to’ site,
Makuri group has had a change with Dan Thurston-Crow stepping in for Nick Brown as lead farmer. Nick was finding it a bit of a stretch balancing this role with having a baby and running the farm. Dan has already got stuck in and has organised a group get together on the 18th February to go over the planting plan for the domain.
Diane Baldie is the new co-ordinator for the HADES group and has replaced Belinda. Diane used to farm in the area and is friends with Lloyd Morgan which is an added bonus. She has already attended a few events as well as getting a HADES meeting underway at Lloyd’s. She is currently completing a door knocking exercise in anticipation of the Matt Highway meeting on the 9th February.
Several catchment groups hosted Paul Rangiwahia who talked about dealing with stress as part of a well being collaboration with Rural Support Trust. Feedback from those that attended was positive and there were some great conversations had as a result. Without farmers and growers having stable wellbeing then it is very difficult to focus on other activities that are planned for the farm. TCC have seen this as a priority, especially with the continuing adverse weather events having an impact on the rural community.
The Curious Minds Low Flow Hydro project has finally been signed off by VT and funding has come through so we are green for go – a very exciting time for a collaboration with Auroa School, local hapu and TCC.
Proposal from Ngaa Rauru on dividing the Waitotara into two catchment groups – one focusing on the Waitotara river and the other on the Whenuakura river due to the large size of the catchment. There is funding in the budget for a second Waitotara group and if the committee is agreeable a plan will be created on the path forward from here for community engagement.
TCC engaged Dr Scott Champion to facilitate a one-day workshop in Stratford on Tuesday 7th February in Stratford. The purpose of the workshop was to further the development and focus of Taranaki Catchment Communities (TCC) and its constituent groups by considering:
1. Impact through what we have now
a. How might we best support existing groups?
b. How do we improve what we do?
c. How do we ensure effective communications and engagement with our groups and with the broader public through effective storytelling and media presence?
d. What does good ‘service delivery’ from TCC to member groups look like?
e. How do we best support member groups to achieve their objective?
f. What is a catchment group and how do we standardise/organise ourselves?
g. How do we best use the project funding we have across the next 6 months?
2. Enhancing our impact in the future
a. What do we do with the next round of funding over the next 2 years?
b. How might we support new groups (but manage the risk of diluting our funds)
c. How do we fund ourselves and create sustainable groups (prepare for two years’ time and a different funding environment)?
d. What does good engagement look like and how do we draw people in?
e. What collaborations are needed and how do we ensure these are effective e.g. with DairyNZ and B+LNZ?
3. Any other key issues that may arise through the day’s discussions
What is LiDAR? Short for Light Detection And Ranging, this technology utilises pulsed lasers to accurately and constantly measure distances to a given target or area. LiDAR sensors are essentially light-based measurement and mapping tools that are incredibly useful in a variety of sectors.
Taranaki Catchment Communities has asked Element Environmental to provide a proposal to help support prioritisation of catchment approaches and actions.
For me the most exciting aspect of this time was the presentation on LiDAR from Matt Highway, and the use of it too:
· Undertake desktop critical source and flow path analysis.
· Identify locations and potential types of interventions throughout the entire catchment.
· Using data layers and risk mapping, map the most likely contaminant risks in the catchment.
· Created a prioritised list of interventions and management priorities for the catchment.
· Identify appropriate placement of interventions
A meeting was held with TRC on the 9th January 2023 about their plans for LiDAR compared to the proposal from Matt, and they are very happy for us to proceed at this level as it exceeds any plans they have for LiDAR which, at this stage, is identifying areas of significant interest such as wetlands. I asked Matt how focused we can get as an idea is to use the LiDAR results as part of the Integrated Farm Plans – his response:
The work we do is 100% scalable. It’s a catchment look, but can zoom right in – will need a site visit to come up with a plan for each site and discussing with the farmer of course.
Project funding is critical to the success of some of the projects undertaken. Below is a summary of the funding applications and status to date.
Predator Free NZ Backyard Communities Fund
Bashford-Nicholls Trust – Massey University Premier Research Award Pivot Funding
STDC Natural Environments Fund
MPI Integrated Farm Planning project
Taranaki Electrical Trust (TET)
Taranaki Foundation Trust
DOC Threatened Species and Ecosystems funding – Lake Herengawe Hornwort
DOC Threatened Species and Ecosystems funding – Weir removal
Another big issue at the end of 2022 was the impact of the invasive weed, Hornwort, on Lake Herengawe. TCC had a meeting with TRC, DOC, NIWA and Ngaa Rauru regarding this and the decision is that TCC apply for the DOC Threatened Species and Ecosystems funding – the proposal project description is below:
To project manage the control of the aquatic weed, Ceratophyllum demersum (hornwort), in Lake Herengawe which is a rare Aeolian (dune) lake. Dune lakes are unique ecosystem types, formed a few thousand years ago when wind created hollows between dunes and this sand cemented with iron to form a pan layer. These are rare and threatened ecosystems, both nationally and internationally. Within this ecosystem exist the ‘Nationally Endangered’ Matuku-hurepo (Australasian Bittern), and their rapid decline is due to habitat loss with 90% of wetlands being destroyed for farmland, so the maintenance and health of this area is critical to their breeding success.
This is an important project for TCC to increase biodiversity, aesthetic, recreational and cultural values through minimising the spread of hornwort within Lake Herengawe and help eliminate the transfer to Ihupuku swamp. This is a well-used recreation lake so could lead to the transfer of Hornwort to other Taranaki and national waterways. TCC wish to lead a community response to this issue in collaboration with the iwi, Ngaa Rauru, Taranaki Regional Council, NIWA and DOC.
Funding applications are also underway for weir removal in Awatuna to help improve the passage of lamprey with the project description as:
The Taranaki Catchment Communities (TCC) seeks funding for the demolition of a weir located on the Oeo Stream within the Awatuna catchment including the associated disturbance of the bed.
The purpose of the weir removal is to restore unimpeded fish passage into the mid catchment of the Oeo Stream just above Skeet Rd. The TCC considers the weir to be a significant impediment to the passage of fish across a range of species in a catchment that has very high quality fish habitat. The TCC considers the project to be of significant ecological importance especially in improving the migration of lamprey The most significant result from the EDNA sampling is the detection of lamprey at both sites. Adult lamprey migrate from the sea up rivers and streams at night during winter floods, where they wait for up to eighteen months for their gonads to mature before spawning amongst boulders and logs. Their juveniles remain in the stream for up to four years, before migrating out to sea to rear into adults. They are of great cultural significance and are classified as ‘Nationally Vulnerable’ (Dunn et al, 2018). This means they have the same threat status as whio (blue duck) and are more threatened than the north island robin. There is a growing interest in Taranaki for identifying spawning and juvenile rearing grounds for this species, so that they can be managed in a way that helps improve the population. Recording them at both the mid-catchment and lower catchment sites indicates that the Oeo Stream is an important stream for this species.
A consent application will be made to the TRC under Section 88 of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA). This Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE) has been prepared as supporting information for the resource consent application to TRC required under the RMA.