Iwi environmental organisation Pūniu River Care is seeing positive outcomes for its people and for conservation following its establishment near Te Awamutu.
The group has been involved in a number of environmental projects in the region following the creation of its own plant nursery.
Pūniu River Care has attracted funding from a number of organisations including the Waikato River Authority.
Chief Executive Shannon Te Huia says having a strong cultural connection to the Pūniu River has been instrumental in the development of an organisation with a strong values base.
Pūniu River Care has grown to an organisation of 20 staff and in the past four years has produced around 600,000 plants and now at 300,000 per year.
“When we first started we grew 8,000 plants in our spare time, with just a vision and definitely not funded. We didn’t understand what nitrogen was, we didn’t understand what phosphorus was, we didn’t understand these contaminants, but we knew what dirt was because when we would swim in the water we knew it was dirt,” he says.
He says it was a simple concept for them that by planting trees they would keep the dirt where it was supposed to be, and not in the water.
Shannan Te Huia says the key for him is increasing the health and wellbeing of the people as well as the river. He says it is not enough just to say that, but to see the results.