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Key to restoring water quality

The “mauri compass” would be the ideal basis for dealing with remediation of the former Paokahu landfill site and other issues relating to water quality, Gisborne District Council’s wastewater management committee was told.

The committee was given an update by iwi representative and mauri compass founder Ian Ruru on the progress of the compass project, which has a framework for assessing and restoring the mauri (wellness) of rivers, lakes and the ocean in the district.

Restoring the Paokahu landfill was one of the six main areas that tangata whenua saw as being key to restoring the mauri of the waters of Turanganui a Kiwa (Poverty Bay). Iwi had presented to the Environmental Planning and Regulations committee on their support for the restoration of the former landfill.

This process had been acrimonious at times and there had been a lot of discussion and debate with Paokahu trustees.

But they were optimistic now, with signals coming from the District Council about remediation of the landfill and having a bigger input to the general restoration of the Paokahu area.

The two key points for the compass were quality assurance for the Paokahu trust and for GDC.

From the GDC perspective, iwi were taking a group of 12 GDC staff and would run them through the process of assessment, using the compass.

The key point was consultation with the trust, which would ensure discussion, collaboration and the ability of the voice of tangata whenua to be heard and understood, he said.

For the trust, the agreement was that the mauri compass should be used as the baseline and the foundation for remedial action.

Other sources of funding such as central government might be needed.

LeRoy Pardoe said it was important to look at other water issues for neighbouring land blocks. Paokahu Trust chairman Pene Brown agreed that it was essential to be inclusive of Kopututea, and the Awapuni Moana Trust for any comprehensive solutions.

Amber Dunn said this was a great way to deal with the issue but asked what research council staff had in place to define necessary remedial actions.

Lifelines director David Wilson said remedial actions would depend on what intervention was required.

One of the key things they had always liked about the mauri compass was that it filled a gap for the council that had existed for some time — that was why they were excited to get staff training done.

There was a lot more conversation to be had but the absolute gold of the compass was that it was forcing the conversations to actually take place.

The council had been working on a site-by-site basis and acting when necessary.

That was reactive, whereas this was more proactive.

Pene Brown said it was pretty easy to scope up options of what should be done for a particular site but the stages before that were important.

Mr Pardoe said there were a lot of issues with the council. It was almost like they were sectioning people off, whereas it would be better to bring things together and deal with them as one huge issue rather than as a series of small ones in isolation.

Mr Wilson said he could not agree more. The council was looking at ways of dealing with multiple issues at once and on a catchment basis rather than on a site basis.

Amber Dunn agreed that the Turanganui a Kiwa Water Quality Enhancement Project was the perfect vehicle to provide solutions for a number of water-related issues.

TESTING THE WATERS: Mauri compass assessors Kawai Joe, Te Irirangi Maxwell, Manawa Ruru and Manawanui Maxwell deploy eel fyke nets at the landfill site at Paokahu. Next week they will teach 12 Gisborne District Council staff how to use the assessment tool as a remedial action framework to treat toxic leachate and restore the mauri of the Awapuni stream. Picture supplied