NZ Landcare Trust’s Aorere River Project has won the inaugural Morgan Foundation NZ Riverprize at the International Rivers Symposium Gala Dinner in Brisbane.
NZ Landcare Trust CEO Dr Nick Edgar accepted the award on behalf of the Aorere River Initiative.“I think this is a real victory for community-led grassroots river management in New Zealand. Without the Aorere river community, the story really wouldn’t have happened.”
After the awards Dr Edgar highlighted the contribution of Barbara Stuart, a long-time Rural Women NZ member, “I’d particularly like to congratulate Barbara Stuart, NZ Landcare Trust Regional Coordinator for the Top of the South, for the incredible job she has done, helping to bring together the Aorere community and encouraging them to solve problems and take positive action.”
Farmer spokesperson and dairy farmer Sue Brown has been instrumental in the success of the Aorere project. Sue was pleased and a little surprised to hear the Aorere project had won, given the scale of the other projects in the final four.“Our project is a community approach to catchment wellbeing. It’s a story of the dairy industry and the shellfish industry coming together and looking at the catchment as a whole.”
The Aorere River Catchment lies within the Tasman District of New Zealand’s South Island and is home to over 13,000 cows and 35 dairy farms. The Aorere River suffered from serious bacterial contamination, which in turn had a negative impact on aquaculture including the mussel and cockle farms in the Ruataniwha estuary. NZ Landcare Trust played a lead role in bringing different stakeholders together and supporting farmers in the region to set up the Aorere Catchment Group. NZ Landcare Trust worked with farmers to develop on-farm environmental plans, provide project coordination and act as brokers, facilitators and supporters to the farming community.
The results were outstanding, thanks to the proactive response from local dairy farmers. The project not only improved the ecological health of the river and coastal environment but also created community cohesion, assisting dairy and marine farmers to coexist and maintain their livelihoods sustainably.
Photo: pictured from left NZ Landcare Trust’s Dr Nick Edgar, Barbara Stuart and Richard Thompson, with Morgan Foundation’s Andrew Gawith – photo credit to International River Foundation.