At this year’s Taranaki Regional Council Environmental Awards, at an awards ceremony held in New Plymouth on Wednesday 15 November, Taranaki Catchment Communities (TCC) were one of eight winners recognised for their outstanding efforts to protect and restore Taranaki’s precious taiao (natural environment).
Taranaki Catchment Communities took home the 2023 award for Environmental Action in Water Quality Improvement, for taking action to protect and enhance water quality and biodiversity values within water bodies in Taranaki.
The Group is made up of farmers with a shared passion for a sustainable future. They work on a range of initiatives around Te Maunga, raising awareness of how fundamental freshwater is to our environment. They have a focus on bringing rural communities together and helping to make rural businesses economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable.
Paul Turner, Taranaki Catchment Communities Project Leader, says: “for us, water has always been an integral part of our culture and how we look after ourselves, our lifestyle in New Zealand. It’s maintaining that level of enjoyment in our waterways that we had in past generations and making sure future generations can have that same respect, understanding and love for what we’ve got here.”
Paul reflects that the award means a huge amount to the Catchment Communities.
“We’re working hard to make a difference on the ground, using an evidence-based approach to help both rural and urban communities adopt more sustainable practices. For us it’s more than just looking at how we can improve water quality – it’s about bringing a community together and building their resilience”.
Since 2021, Taranaki Catchment Communities and the catchment groups have been working on various projects, such as restoring wetlands, planting native trees, educating the public, and monitoring water quality.
“We have faced many obstacles and difficulties along the way, but we have also seen many positive outcomes and changes. It’s thanks to our committee members, our coordinators, our volunteers, our partners, and our funders for their invaluable contributions and commitment, that we’ve been able to achieve what we have.
“Most importantly, I would like to thank the people of Taranaki for their trust and cooperation. You are the reason why we do what we do”.
For Paul, this award is not the end of the journey, but rather a milestone and a motivation.
“We still have a lot of work to do and we are determined to keep making a difference for our water, our land, and our people”.