In June 2023, Te Wahapū o Waihī was established: an iwi-led catchment-wide monitoring, education, restoration and management programme for the Waihī estuary.
Ngāti Whakaue ki Maketū is one of the five iwi who are spearheading this action-based programme. The other four iwi in the collective are: Ngāti Whakahemo, Ngāti Mākino, Ngāti Pikiao and Tapuika. To achieve their goals, the collective is partnering with a range of people and organisations including 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).
Once a source of plentiful kai for iwi and communities, Waihī Estuary is now unfortunately 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.
As kaitiaki, iwi connected to Waihī have strongly voiced our concerns about the deteriorated state of the wahapū/estuary 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.
If we want Waihī estuary to be the abundant mahinga kai (food basket) it once was, urgent action is needed.
Our taiao team is part of this action through environmental restoration and monitoring, and holding wānanga.