Community groups around the country are being invited to apply for funding to boost the health of their local waterways.

NZ Landcare Trust and Westpac NZ are awarding six grants of $10,000 every year through the Westpac Watercare Project, to support sustainable initiatives for rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands. The first six grants were handed out in late 2022.

NZ Landcare Trust CEO Dr Nick Edgar says the funding can be used by local groups on a range of practical initiatives such as pest control, water quality monitoring and native planting.

“Many of New Zealand’s waterways are in poor condition and recent extreme weather events have compounded the situation. Our catchment groups are doing a remarkable job around the country in increasing biodiversity and improving water quality, but funding is always an issue,” Dr Edgar says.

“The Westpac Watercare Project grants give catchment groups the opportunity to put their water quality goals into action and help to future proof their catchments against severe weather events.”

Westpac NZ Head of Agribusiness Tim Henshaw says the funding from the 2022 grants is already helping deliver results for catchment groups around the country.

“What we love about partnering with NZ Landcare Trust is working together to get money straight to where it needs to go – from helping restore whio (blue duck) populations on East Coast rivers, to preserving precious inanga (whitebait) habitats in Northland, to creating shared community spaces in rural Southland,” Mr Henshaw says.

“As well as providing the grants, Westpac staff are out in the community getting their hands dirty with other committed locals on these projects. It’s a real team effort to build healthier waterways and communities for the benefit of everyone.”

Westpac ambassador Richie McCaw recently travelled to Piroa, near Waipu in Northland, to help the Piroa Conservation Trust Catchment Group with native planting alongside a vital stretch of river for inanga – the smallest and most common whitebait species.

“I didn’t realise how under pressure these little fish are and how important they are to the ecosystem,” he says.

“Just hearing the passion of the people who are right in amongst it makes you want to do everything you can to help.”

The six recipients of 2022 Westpac Watercare Project grants were:

  • Piroa Conservation Trust, Northland: Improving biodiversity through riparian planting, weed and pest animal control, fencing and planting to improve inanga populations.
  • Eastern Whio Link, East Coast: Maintaining and rebating 400 traps with stoat lures and CO2 gas canisters to enable whio (blue duck) population to thrive.
  • Flaxbourne-Waima, Marlborough: Improving severe lake erosion and encouraging native wildlife to return through native planting and a pest control programme.
  • Sefton Saltwater Creek, Canterbury: Increasing existing water quality monitoring programme to sample four times a year.
  • Mid Taieri Wai, Otago: Implementing a water quality monitoring programme.
  • Makarewa Headwaters, Southland: Implementing a native planting and pest control programme. Additionally, creating a shared space that can be used for others.

Applications for this year’s grants are open until Wednesday 5 July. Groups can register their interest in funding now at