About 150 people turned out last week to attend a field day at Ngai Tukairangi Trust’s kiwifruit orchard at Matapihi.
At a meeting in July, Waikato regional councillors voted unanimously in favour of transferring summer bathing beach, regional rivers, rainfall and groundwater quality monitoring within the Lake Taupo catchment to the trust board.
It’s the first iwi authority in Aotearoa New Zealand to have functions transferred to them by a council.
Governance and senior officials from both the council and the trust board were at the singing on October 16, which saw the formal agreement signed by leaders.
Council chair Russ Rimmington described it as an important step forward in resource management for our nation, sending a strong signal that the time has come for more effective engagement between councils and iwi.
“The signing of this agreement is the start of something new, providing the opportunity for Ngāti Tūwharetoa to be directly involved in tracking the quality of these water bodies over time.”
For Waikato Regional Council, it creates a more efficient method for delivering some monitoring functions, saving it more than $100,000 over a 10-year period.
Regional councillor Andrew MacPherson said at the event that the council had become more confident in working in partnership with iwi.
“Through the maturing of our relationship, we are no longer looking to just meet statutory requirements or minimums. We are seeking greater opportunities to work together, to partner on projects that are mutually beneficial to iwi and the council, and therefore the wider community,” MacPherson said.
Tūwharetoa Māori Trust Board will only collect samples – not make decisions – and the data collected in undertaking sampling will remain in the ownership of Waikato Regional Council.