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Carterton celebrates an environmental milestone

Carterton District Council [CDC] is celebrating a significant infrastructure partnership and milestone for the community and the environment.

CDC chief executive Geoff Hamilton, Joel Ngātuere of Ngāti Kahukuraāwhitia, and Greater Wellington Regional Council [GWRC] chief executive Nigel Corry yesterday signed agreements cementing an ongoing partnership to manage the district’s wastewater in an environmentally friendly way.

The public signing ceremony at Carterton Events Centre was attended by more than 60 people and followed the blessing of CDC’s wastewater treatment reservoirs in the latest stage in the district’s plan to eliminate wastewater from the Mangatarere Stream catchment.

The event marked the culmination of more than 12 years of work.

Representatives from the Ngāti Kahukuraāwhitia hapū – the tangata whenua of the Mangatarere – conducted the blessing.

Carterton District Council, Ngāti Kahukuraāwhitia, and GWRC also agreed to lease more than 20 hectares of land for a nursery to grow poplar and willow poles, using treated wastewater for irrigation.

The joint effort is expected to double the amount of treated wastewater diverted away from the Mangatarere stream and discharged safely onto land. CDC and Ngāti Kahukuraāwhitia also signed a memorandum of understanding to develop silviculture skills in the community.

CDC mayor Ron Mark said it was a momentous day and an emotional time.

He thanked those who had contributed to the project’s success, despite encountering “road bumps” along the way.

Mark said the original vision was to create a significant and enduring change that would limit wastewater discharge to the area’s waterways.

“We have a capability now which not only conserves and protects water but utilises it and gets it out of the Mangaterere,” Mark said.

“I think we will be seen as an exemplar.

“Here is an opportunity between CDC, GWRC and Kahukuraāwhitia to talk to people about how things can be done, and how collaborative arrangements can be entered into. If you’re respectful of culture and you’re respectful of people, and if you have vision, have courage, and you’re committed, you can produce a very cost-effective result.

“As someone who was here at the start of this journey, reaching the end of the beginning is a testament to our community’s foresight and the sacrifices made. Our ratepayers will see the benefits of the investment. They have paid a price for us to secure our future.”

Ngātuere said Ngāti Kahukuraāwhitia are focused on working with the councils on future projects.

“Ngāti Kahuhuraāwhitia is looking forward to an enhanced relationship with CDC and GWRC as we develop sustainable practices that are culturally relevant to the Mangaterere catchment, Carterton, and Wairarapa as a whole,” Ngātuere said.

“We look forward to working together in a mutually beneficial and respectful partnership.”

Hamilton said land-based discharge of treated wastewater is at the heart of the project for CDC and the hapū.

“We will make sure the reservoirs can be operated sustainably and form stronger bonds with partners and the community,” Hamilton said.

“We are working with Ngāti Kahukuraāwhitia and the GWRC to combine our different skills and experiences and share a common goal. By working together, we can show respect for culture, look after the environment, and help our community thrive.”

CDC intends to continue to collaborate on identifying other properties to expand its land-based discharge programme, with the goal of removing wastewater discharges into
the Mangatarere Stream.

The council plans to finish testing and commissioning, which will complete the wastewater treatment plant project. – NZLDR

    Public Interest Journalism funded through NZOnAir

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