AORERE RIVER PROJECT - RIVERPRIZE WINNER
Aorere Catchment Project; a community approach to improving catchment wellbeing
The Aorere River Catchment lies within the Tasman District of New Zealand’s South Island and is home to over 13,000 cows and 35 dairy farms. The Aorere River suffered from serious bacterial contamination, which in turn had a negative impact on aquaculture including the mussel and cockle farms in the Ruataniwha estuary.
NZ Landcare Trust played a lead role in bringing different stakeholders together and supporting farmers in the region to set up the Aorere Catchment Group. NZ Landcare Trust worked with farmers to develop on-farm environmental plans, provide project coordination and act as brokers, facilitators and supporters to the farming community.
The results were outstanding, thanks to the proactive response from local dairy farmers. Twenty-four farms developed farm plans and over $1.6 million was invested in on-farm best management practices. The Aorere River Project not only improved the ecological health of the river and coastal environment but also created community cohesion, assisting dairy and marine farmers to coexist and maintain their livelihoods sustainably.
The Trust would like to acknowledge the outstanding work carried out by the three other NZ Riverprize finalists – Lake Taupo (Waikato), the Manawatu River (Manawatu) and Project Twin Streams (Waitakere).
The Aorere project received a $20,000 prize and automatically qualified for the second stage of the prestigious Thiess International Riverprize in 2016 – where other regional winners and applicants from all over the world competed for the world’s top award in river restoration, protection and management.
River Prize Award Winners
NZ Landcare Trust’s Aorere River Project won the inaugural Morgan Foundation NZ Riverprize at the International Riversymposium Gala Dinner in Brisbane.
Richard Thompson Chair of NZ Landcare Trust’s Board of Trustees said “What a fantastic result for the Trust and the Aorere community. This is an amazing result given the strength of the competition … it really underlines the value of this project and the work carried out by NZ Landcare Trust.”
NZ Landcare Trust CEO Dr Nick Edgar accepted the award on behalf of the Aorere River Initiative. After the awards Dr Edgar said “I’d particularly like to congratulate Barbara Stuart, NZ Landcare Trust Regional Coordinator for the Top of the South, for the incredible job she has done, helping to bring together the Aorere community and encouraging them to solve problems and take positive action.”
Dr Nick Schofield, Chief Executive Officer at the International RiverFoundation, congratulated the Aorere River Initiative and expressed “This is the first time we have awarded the Riverprize in New Zealand, and it is fantastic to be able to recognise institutions in this region for their immense efforts in sustainable river basin management,”
“It is a tribute to the Aorere River to be recognised on an international scale for their collaborative approach to restoring the health of the river, and we look forward to working with the initiative to share their knowledge and expertise with communities around the world.” Dr Schofield added.
Farmer spokesperson and dairy farmer Sue Brown has been instrumental in the success of the Aorere project. Sue was pleased and a little surprised to hear the Aorere project had won, given the scale of the other projects in the final four. “Our project is a community approach to catchment wellbeing. It’s a story of the dairy industry and the shellfish industry coming together and looking at the catchment as a whole.”
I think this is a real victory for community-led grassroots river management in New Zealand. Without the Aorere river community, the story really wouldn’t have happened.
– Nick Edgar, CEO NZLT