07 Nov Nic Caviale Delzescaux
Nic has been involved since 2012 as the Project Manager of the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group. French Ingenieur Agronome by trade, Nic has been able to use a wide range of skills to bring the Whangawehi Project to International level.
The Whangawehi Story
The Whangawehi Catchment Management Group knew that they had a very special story to share with the rest of the world. Our journey started in 2010 when local Maori took the lead in wanting to protect and enhance their sacred river. The local council had just finished purchasing a site in the headwaters of the sacred Whangawehi river to put its new waste water system on. There was a real concern from locals that overflow from the wastewater plant could affect the health of the river and the sea. Kathleen Mato, local Kuia, had the wisdom to see an opportunity to turn this concern into a large scale restoration project.
During our journey, we have learnt that success comes from working together towards a shared vision. Having strong leadership, trust and being inclusive has led to buy in from all landowners-who have decided to improve their land management practices. One of our challenges was to reach out to the wider community in order to keep the momentum of the project going. This was done by a series of community engagement events including planting days, mountain bike rides, trail runs and guided walks.
We have achieved a large-scale restoration project but our biggest success has come from transferring our local knowledge to the next generation of caretakers. We have developed a unique school environmental programme where children are actively involved in the long-term succession plan to better manage their environment.
The work we have completed has surpassed our original vision. We are now trying to leverage socio economic benefits from our conservation work via a red meat brand and a public access walk way. The twining project with Rarotonga adds another dimension to this unique story by reconnecting two islands with their ancestral whakapapa and influence change in our Pacific Nation.