By Ali Mackisack
Here in the Wairarapa, it seems we really do love our natural environment. And it’s also clear that we’re aware there are things we need to do, to look after our special little piece of Planet Earth.
A quick count reveals that there are at least 52 groups in the Wairarapa, who are working to protect and restore biodiversity in different ways, both rural and urban and in many different parts of our region. From small groups of neighbours planting up a creek that runs behind their properties, to massive collaborations with million-dollar budgets and 100-year plans, there are thousands of us out there doing the mahi, connecting our communities and working alongside each other to do our bit. And if you’re into setting traps for predators, planting trees or riverbanks, searching for bugs, creating wētā homes, collecting data, spotting skinks or cleaning up waterways, then you’ll find that there’s a place for you in Wairarapa’s diverse environmental community.
Providing a network to connect and support all of these groups with their wide range of interest, concerns and areas of expertise, is the main focus of the Wairarapa Pūkaha to Kawakawa Alliance. WaiP2K has been established to give groups and individuals from Pūkaha (Mt Bruce) at the northern tip of our region to Kawakawa (Cape Palliser) at the southern end, a chance to see what others are up to, share expertise and experiences, and to connect and co-ordinate.
The Wairarapa Pūkaha to Kawakawa Alliance is a community-led network. It brings many different groups together to increase the health of Wairarapa ecosystems, biodiversity, water, and the resilience of its communities. It includes conservation and environmental groups, farmers and mana whenua as well as representatives from DOC, the Greater Wellington Regional Council and Wairarapa District Councils.
A Hui to Connect, Discover and Develop
One of the ways thatWaiP2K is connecting, supporting and celebrating all the work that is being done, is by holding an afternoon hui on April 11 in Masterton. Anyone with an interest in environmental projects is welcome, and while it is free, participants need to register.
“We want to give people plenty of time to connect and collaborate,” says WaiP2K chairperson Gill Murray. “WaiP2K has a vision of thriving native biodiversity, waterways to be proud of and prosperous communities. This hui makes it possible for anyone who is involved or interested in environmental projects in the Wairarapa to network, learn, share ideas and find ways we can work together to achieve this.”
While there will be guest speakers and guided discussions, the hui will also give people time to talk with others and share their successes and their ideas for support. The keynote speaker is Charles Daugherty, a recently-retired zoologist from the Hawkes Bay, who has spent a lifetime involved in conservation. He is currently Chair of the Hawke’s Bay Biodiversity Trust and a director at the tech company Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP). His talk will be followed by small-group discussions, and overview of who’s-doing-what across our region, and time to question and chat.
“Our focus is Kei te mahi tātou mō te taiao | Communities working together for nature,” says Gill Murray, “so being able to bring different groups together face-to-face like this at a hui is a really great opportunity!”