by Ali Mackisack
Outside the hall, there’s a 3 litre diesel ute parked next to a tiny electric car. The variety in the vehicles parked in the paddock-cum-carpark reflects the variance in the kinds of people inside the hall, where large-station owners sit alongside people who live in tiny homes with a tiny creek running behind their property.
But what everyone in the hall has in common is more vital than their differences. Each of them care about their environment and their community, and they want to find out how Catchment Community Groups (CCGs) can support these things.
Earlier this month, The Wairarapa Pūkaha to Kawakawa Alliance (WaiP2K) invited everyone interested to Dalefield Hall, to find out about how Wairarapa CCGs can be set up, supported and funded under a 2-year funding allocation from the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI).
Last year, MPI allocated over a million dollars to set up and support CCGs in the Wairarapa. These CCGs are groups that come together around a particular rural issue, project or place, with the intention of restoring, enhancing or benefiting the environment and the community.
The plan and the scale of the actions taken are in the hands of the groups themselves. At one end of that scale, for example, is the Whangaehu-Bideford CCG which covers 31,000 hectares of mostly-farmland, and as is focussed on establishing healthy habitats and reconnecting the community after the closure of its school in the early 2000s. No less vital, but on a much smaller scale, is the Awatotara Project – a semi rural Masterton project with the aim to bring neighbours together and enhance a waterway which runs through their neighbourhood.
Both these groups were among those who presented a snapshot of their experiences to the crowd gathered in the Dalefield hall earlier this month. Also presenting was Kate Wyeth, Chairperson of the Catchment Communities Steering group which was tasked with coming up with a plan to support the establishment, growth and development of CCGs in the Wairarapa. She talked about how support includes some start-up funding to bring a community together, some financial support for a group coordinator, workshops, pest-management and water-testing support, access to experts, and two regional coordinators to be their first points of contact.
Kate also introduced these two new coordinators, Richard Parkes and Te Rangikaiwhiria Reiri, and people had a chance to chat to them after the convoy of vehicles – utes, EVs and an e-bike too – had headed off down the road. Here, the group checked out the Daleton Wetlands Project and pondered their next moves. No doubt Richard and Te Rangikaiwhiria will have a role in these next-step plans, whether they involve starting a brand new CCG in your rural neighbourhood, or reinvigorating an existing one.
What is a Catchment Community Group?
A catchment community group is led by landowners and farmers taking action to achieve a long-term vision for the catchment, based on a healthy environment and a thriving community.
The catchment is an identified geographical area that has a point of common interest such as a river, a stretch of road, a community hall or a school.