Working together to restore Waikanae Stream

Students, teachers, Ngai Tāwhiri representatives, Gisborne Airport and Eastland Port staff rolled up their sleeves in August to plant 1400 native plants along the Waikanae Stream at Gisborne Airport. Over 300 tamariki and rangatahi from Te Hapara School, Cobham School, Gisborne Intermediate and Gisborne Girls High School mulched, dug holes, and planted harakeke and wharariki flax, koromiko and carex grass. 

Eastland Group Chief Operating Officer Regional Infrastructure Andrew Gaddum said, “The Waikanae Stream is a significant awa as it runs through the city so it’s important that we do our bit to provide a healthier environment for native species to thrive in and help purify water entering the stream. 

“Our shared goal with Ngai Tāwhiri is to help restore the stream and improve the health of the awa and whenua. This has also been a great opportunity for Ngai Tawhiri to share their knowledge with the tamariki and rangatahi about the local environment and history of the area.”

Thelma Karaitiana of Ngai Tāwhiri said, “As the people, tangata whenua and mana whenua, we’re reliant on inter-generational transmission of knowledge and our language. A lot of the knowledge has been accrued over the generations so we have a responsibility to share that.  

“Restoring the land and awa needs our energy, the energy of the people to invigorate and initiate the action of mauri. 

“Having all of these younger generations working together in this way has got to be the most beneficial thing for any community. From our perspective, in terms of matauranga, we are looking at the regeneration and wellbeing of the awa. 

“These planting days with Eastland Port and Gisborne Airport are a great example of how to reduce those distances between corporation and community – the children do it for us and it becomes meaningful for generations.

“The children will remember that they helped reinvigorate the mauri of the land and the awa - I can’t think of anything more meaningful from where I stand.”

Primary School Teacher, Gabe Perano said, “It’s awesome for our kids to be invited to a community project which is linked with Ngai Tāwhiri.” 

Since 2019, students and the community have been gradually planting thousands of native shrubs and trees along the Waikanae Stream. 

Mr Gaddum said, “Our thanks to everyone who has been involved over the past few years, particularly Ngai Tāwhiri, EnviroSchools, Wai Restoration, Nga Mahi Te Atiao, Tūranga Ararau, various primary and secondary school and kura, Women’s Native Tree Project Trust, Native Garden Nursery, and staff from Eastland Port, Gisborne Airport and Eastland Group.

“It has been a team effort over time to collect rubbish, pull weeds, mulch, and plant for the ultimate benefit of our community. We aren’t done yet and hope to carry on planting the remaining areas adjacent to the Waikanae stream and entrance to the airport over the coming years.