by Ali Mackisack
So you’ve heard a bit and read a bit about Community Catchment Groups (CCGs). You’ve thought, “hey, great idea” and have had a chat with a few neighbouring landowners about some of the ideas you’ve tossed around amongst yourselves over the years. You’ve got a bit of a buzz happening in the area and you’re all thinking “yup, we want to give this a go.” So what now? Who are you going to contact? Richard Parkes of course.
Richard is one of the part-time CCG coordinators, newly contracted by WaiP2K with funding from MPI, to get farmer-led catchment community groups like yours underway and moving forward with a plan of your own making.
Each group will look different, have a different makeup, and be filled with people that have different skills and different ideas. Richard’s job is to guide your group through the process of working out what you have, what you want and how you’re going to get there. And, most importantly, where you’re going to start! Richard is an experienced facilitator. He developed Beef + Lamb NZ’s Catchment Community Group Programme and is able to run workshops for your group to help you get started on a plan.
Richard may be newly contracted, but he has many years of experience in this line of work, with an extensive background in agricultural extension and running his own agricultural consultancy business. Despite having run workshops and facilitated groups all over the country, Richard is excited at the chance to work with local Wairarapa groups and to see the changes that will come about as more and more groups take action.
“Often when people hear about CCGs, they immediately think about water catchments or environmental actions,” Richard says. “But it’s not limited to that. It’s also about the local economy, building capacity in the rural community and about connectedness.”
“The first thing we do as a new group, is explore why people are there – what are those triggers for action? It could be that the local school has closed, or it may be a response to concerns about looming regulations or an extreme weather event. The reasons for coming together, the values identified, the skills and assets of the group – these are the things that feed into the group’s vision and action plan.”
Richard knows people are keen to get stuck in, and has streamlined an approach in which action is underpinned with solid planning and direction. “People don’t want endless meetings – they want to get on with it. My job is to help them with the setup and planning, then support them as they get underway with the ‘doing’ by connecting them with any other expertise they need.”
“Being part of a CCG is an opportunity for farmers and rural communities to identify what they can influence and what they want to achieve, in an uncertain and changing regulatory environment. It’s far better for a farmer’s wellbeing to take control and get ahead of change, rather than feeling as though change is something that is forced upon them.”
Richard is working alongside fellow CCG co-ordinator, Te Rangikaiwhiria Reiri, who will provide similar support with an added focus of iwi liaison. Both roles are part-time so it pays to think ahead and contact them in plenty of time. If you’re interested in getting your group underway or reinvigorated you can contact them at the addresses below.
Learn more about Catchment Community Groups at waip2k.org.nz/catchment-community-groups.