The source of the Manawatū River, hidden away in the Ruahine mountain range, is a culturally significant site and sacred for local hapū.
Close by, at Te Miro Farm, Marie Moinet and I have joined with hapū groups, dairy farmers and the local school to provide assistance with riparian planting, pest management and microbial water quality assessments.
The ongoing work to enhance the mauri of this site has brought the community together with a shared vision to bring back the trees, bring back the birds, and bring back the people. Families and friends come together for community planting days, and Norsewood and Districts School uses Te Miro Farm as an outside classroom with lessons on why pest management, planting native trees and water quality are important.
As part of this partnership, Year 8 students came to the Hopkirk Research Institute and were able to learn more about microbial contamination of the environment and see bacteria up close.
Microbial water quality assessments are an important means through which freshwater improvement can be monitored over time, and provide some confidence that recreational and culturally important activities, such as swimming and mahinga kai, can be undertaken safely.
In the future we hope this kaupapa will provide inspiration for similar initiatives to occur that allow communities to reconnect with the freshwater sites and to provide opportunities for microbiologists of tomorrow to have their first lab experience.
Our Land and Water provided funding for a movie, above, to describe the kaupapa underpinning this ongoing venture, and AgResearch provides support for ongoing community engagement and freshwater microbiology. Marie and I would also like to thank and acknowledge Penelope and Blair Drysdale of Te Miro Farm, local hapū and folks from the Norsewood community who are the real drivers of this venture.