Financial boost given to community groups who take action for a better environment

Our Waitaha Action to Impact Fund has given 35 organisations around the region/takiwa a much-needed financial boost.

The Waitaha Action to Impact Fund is a contestable fund for community organisations in Canterbury. Funding has been given out to a range of community organisations for the past two years. The fund aims to build community engagement and action for a better environment in the region.

For the 2022/23 year, the fund had $600,000 available, up from the $200,000 available in the pilot round in 2021/22. Some of the applicants from 2021 were successful in receiving further allocations for 2022/23.

In 2022, 66 new applicants were received, totalling approximately $1.3m. The successful applicants are featured here.

Encouraging and empowering the community

One of the successful applicants in 2022 was the Hurunui Biodiversity Trust from the Hurunui Waiau zone. The group was awarded $20,000 to provide education, resources, and networking services that will encourage and empower people to value and look after native biodiversity on their properties and in their communities.

Hurunui Biodiversity Trust's chairperson Dave Nicholls said they were thrilled to be awarded the funding and it was certainly worth putting in an application.

"It is gratifying to know that Environment Canterbury values our trust's existence and achievements to date, and recognises the importance of supporting an independent, local organisation that is well-connected to Hurunui's diverse and widespread communities."

The Hurunui Biodiversity Trust is a community-led organisation founded in 2019 to, among other things, encourage people to understand and value biodiversity and take care of it as part of living in Hurunui.

Dave said the funds will help the group develop and disseminate information and resources to key communities in Hurunui — in particular farmers and other landowners.

"Last year the trust, in conjunction with the Hurunui District Landcare Group, researched and developed a report based on 12 specific geological, geographic, and biological zones. Each zone defined is identified by the type of native species found there, the threats to their preservation, and priority actions to create better outcomes for biodiversity."

The key actions for 2023 now that they have received funding from the Waitaha Action to Impact Fund is to upgrade the group's website to support online accessibility to the Hurunui Biodiversity Zones of Action Plan (HUBZAP) resource, print fact sheets and brochures, conduct community forums, support local actions and catchment groups, and provide advice in a responsive way.

"We will also be in a better position to collaborate with agencies such as Environment Canterbury, Department of Conservation, and Hurunui District Council, and reach out to other organisations active in the district, including businesses, farming groups, and NGOs."

Restoring the mauri of freshwater springs

Ōpāwaho Heathcote River Network from the Christchurch West Melton zone was awarded $29,980 for their project Ngā Puna Wai. This project will restore the mauri of urban freshwater springs" the Cashmere Stream and the Ōpāwaho Heathcote River. The group will also facilitate a programme of work with mana whenua, councils, scientists, and community groups that will contribute to healthy freshwater springs.

Ōpāwaho Heathcote River Network's Rachel Barker said the funds will really enable the group to carry out work for the betterment of the environment.

"This funding means that we are able to begin to restore the mauri of freshwater springs so they are protected and valued as wāhi taonga. Springs are valued for their capacity to shape and sustain the quality of life experience and provide for the needs of present and future generations, and as places that connect and bind current generations to their ancestral land and practices. We believe that for too long, the importance of springs as the source of the Ōpāwaho Heathcote River has been undervalued and therefore the springs themselves have been neglected.

"Obtaining this funding has been so empowering on many different levels. It has given the whole project the impetus to be something other than just a desktop exercise. It has raised the mana of the project by reinforcing the significance of springs in the catchment.

"The recognition that the funding brings to the Ōpāwaho Heathcote River Network raises our profile in the community, and at the same time allows us to raise the profile of the project itself. The funding also allows us to increase our interaction with Ngāi Tahu," Rachel said.

Multiple projects to protect the Hakataramea River

Hakataramea Sustainability Collective from the Lower Waitaki South Coastal Canterbury zone was awarded $30,000 for their Community Native Nursery, biodiversity education, and river protection projects. They will run an action-based education programme to increase biodiversity delivered at the Waitaki Valley School and the newly established Community Native Nursery, and coordinate weed and pest control along the upper and lower reaches of the Hakataramea River.

Hakataramea Sustainability Collective's chairperson Juliet Gray said they were extremely humbled and excited to be awarded funding from the Waitaha Action to Impact Fund.

"We know our projects have huge value to the people and land within our local areas and being supported by the Waitaha Action to Impact Fund gives us a feeling of pride that others also want to support our work."

The funding will allow the group to meet their aim to increase biodiversity in their local area through education and support.

"Last year saw the initial set up of our Community Native Nursery and the engagement of our local tamariki and community through field trips, planting and potting days, and other education. This funding will allow us to continue moving forward with this exciting initiative. Our river control project, which is focused on protecting the values of the Hakataramea River, was also established in 2022. Weed control work to protect the braided nature and biodiversity that comes with this began and this funding will allow this project to be managed effectively," Juliet said.

Check out the full list detailing the recipients of the Waitaha Action to Impact Fund.

Photo credit: Hakataramea pictures taken by Chloe Lodge.