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Restoration Day 2022 left attendees feeling inspired about how we can connect people with nature, celebrate our environment’s significance and restore the mana of Wairarapa Moana.

From tiny bullies flicking in and out of the torchlight, to the plans in place for massive forest corridors marching across the lower Wairarapa valley, the day captured the scale and passion of the projects, people and places involved.

The event kicked off with a webinar where keynote speaker Rawiri Smith answered the question “how do we lift Wairarapa Moana out of the too-hard basket” and illustrated all of the different ways we can connect with and value the lake as our home and bring it back to life.

“If we have an opportunity right now to arrest the injury in the state of the lake, the state of our tipuna, the state of our moana, we need to do that. And if we are going to do that, we need to move it out of the too-hard basket, we need to bring on everybody.

 

I’ve got faith in all the people of Wairarapa, that we know the connection between us and the land, we know that we can stop and feel the wairua and understand in our solitude that we’re here with the taiao.”

Other webinar panelists, Thea DePetris, Russleigh Parai, Ian Gunn and Vanessa Tipoki discussed how collaborative community education connects our tamariki with nature, how mātauranga compliments western science, the international significance of Wairarapa Moana and how Te Mana o Te Wai prioritises freshwater in our planning.

The webinar was followed by presentations at Pirinoa Hall by Clive Paton on the Aorangi Restoration Trust’s ambitious Tonganui Corridors Project – a large landscape restoration project that will create native forest corridors between the Aorangi and Remutaka Ranges. Clive was followed by Vanessa Tipoki, sharing her knowledge on how Te Mana o Te Wai – a fundamental concept that underpins freshwater regulations, will help improve the health of our rivers, streams and lakes in the Wairarapa.

The day finished with an evening fish-monitoring field trip to Barton’s Lagoon where visitors got up close with some of the local fish species of the Wairarapa Moana wetlands.

Led by Liz Gibson and Kara Kenny of Mountains to Sea Wellington, the group set live-catch fish nets, spotted hundreds of common bullies under torchlight and listened to stories about Wairarapa Moana history and wetland systems. The following day, the group returned to Barton’s Lagoon to pull in the nets and found long and short fin tuna, more common bullies and freshwater shrimp, as well as introduced fish species – perch, rudd and smelt.

Event organiser, Tessa Bunny, said the fish monitoring trip was a highlight for her children who attend the event.

“The magical weather and hands-on learning, from spotlighting fish to touching and seeing eels up close made the event captivating. The kids absolutely loved it!”

Restoration Day is an annual collaborative event that acknowledges and celebrates the incredible contribution the people of the Wellington region are making toward restoration and the diverse environments they are working in. The event is led by Greater Wellington in collaboration with mana whenua, the Department of Conservation, local councils, Wairarapa Pūkaha to Kawakawa Alliance and other environmental organisations in the region.

A recording of the webinar is available on Greater Wellington’s YouTube channel.