Erosion report recognises significance of Waiapu River to Ngati Porou
An independent study of the erosion issues in the Waiapu catchment has confirmed that erosion in the catchment is of spiritual, cultural, and economic significance to Ngāti Porou.
The study, undertaken by Crown Research Institute Scion, confirms that the rates of natural erosion and sedimentation are high in the Waiapu catchment and afforestation, where it has been applied, is a most effective method of controlling erosion.
The Crown, Ngāti Porou, and the Gisborne District Council are committed to addressing erosion on the East Coast. The East Coast Forestry Project and other government funded schemes will continue to support erosion control measures in the Waiapu catchment.
Ned Ihaka, a member of the Te Haeata, (Ngati Porou Negotiators) and now of Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou, welcomed the report, especially the recognition that this long term problem will require a long term commitment and engagement with the Iwi Kaenga (local people).
Mike Jebson, Director Resource Policy Ministry for Primary Industries, says the report confirms that afforestation, reversion and wide-spaced planted trees are very effective in reducing erosion. About 54,000 hectares of land in the East Coast have been treated to date. This included 39,000 hectares of the worst eroding land, of which a significant proportion in the Waiapu catchment, under the East Coast Forestry Project. An area of about 28,000 ha of grassland within the catchment still requires work to prevent sediment yields from increasing.
Gisborne District Council says that it will continue its work through the implementation of its regional planning rules and will provide advocacy and advice services. The Council is also willing to provide further leadership.
The Waiapu River Catchment Study was commissioned as part of the 2010 Ngāti Porou Deed of Settlement to assess the scope of the erosion problem in the Waiapu River catchment and compile a list of the research and intervention methods applied in the past.
A Steering Committee was formed, comprising the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Ministry for the Environment, the Department of Conservation, Ngāti Porou and Gisborne District Council. The Steering Committee commissioned SCION to undertake the independent study. The Ministry of Primary Industries, in consultation with the Steering Committee, will report back to Cabinet on the study report in the coming months.