Budget boost for a cleaner Waikato river

The Waikato River. Image: Thajsko licensed under Creative Commons

The latest funding to improve the condition of the Waikato and Waipā river is also expected to bring an economic boost to riverside communities.

The Waikato River Authority has increased its annual funding for river clean-up projects, in part to ensure support for environmental and iwi groups recovering from the financial impacts of Covid-19.

A total of $6.2 million has been allocated to 38 projects.

Waikato River Authority Crown Co-Chair Paula Southgate says the Authority’s 2020 funding round has been one of its most successful in 10 years of operation.

“The Authority board was pleased to be able to increase the level of funding it has made available. This was due to the strength and quality of the applications to carry out river restoration and also the desire by the board to support river communities.” Ms Southgate says ensuring prosperous communities is an integral part of the Vision & Strategy for the Waikato River.

Iwi Co-Chair, Roger Pikia, says the funding round has also been notable for the impressive number of iwi projects successfully funded.

“We’ve seen the number of applications from iwi grow over recent years and the number of applicants partnering with iwi has also increased. That trend has continued this year with 16 iwi led projects receiving $3.2 million.”

Mr Pikia said there had also been strong alignment with the Authority’s funding priority for wetland restoration. Among the projects funded this year is the restoration of Lake Kimihia north of Huntly, now highly visible from the Huntly by-pass expressway. The project is being led by Waikato Regional Council with strong support from Waikato-Tainui, the Department of Conservation and local landowners. The project involves raising the level of the lake and undertaking restoration of wetland margins.

Pūniu River Care has also been funded nearly $600,000 to carry out a series of environmental projects focused in Waipā River catchment.

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