Great Farming Stories

Puniu River Care Catchment Group Award Winners 2021

29 April 2021

Puniu River Care Catchment Group Award Winners 2021

When it comes to Catchment Management, Pūniu River Care, known as PRC, are big initiators in the Waikato. 

Established in 2015 to enable local hapū to be involved in the restoration of the Pūniu River Catchment, PRC work with their rural community, iwi, regional and central government to implement restoration work at scale. A main part of their work is training people from the community to propagate native plants at Mangatoatoa marae which are then planted around rivers, lakes, wetlands and erodible land. The organisation has grown rapidly since its inception and will deliver 500,000 native plants, planted into the Pūniu, and Waipa River catchments in May 2021 and have the capacity to deliver in excess of 1 million plants each year in the coming seasons. 

This organisation has much broader focus than just growing plants. They are focused on restoring the Pūniu River and also growing their people. The nursery and planting operation currently employs more than 30 people. All staff are paid the living wage and with the organisation committed to building the skills and capability of their people, a number of young staff members are being supported to step up into leadership roles. 

Encouraging the next generation is also a priority with an education program running at the local Whare Kura to ensure the ongoing success of PRC, the improvement of the environment and the hope it gives marae throughout Aotearoa. 

For this Iwi-lead organisation, the engagement of industry stakeholders has been critical in building their foundation blocks and also ensuring the organisation is well received and supported by the Waikato community. 

With more than 700,000 plants in the ground, 40km of new riparian fencing and a track record of getting the job done, PRC has received full backing from funding bodies to support their endeavours. 

GIS modelling from CEO Shannon Te Huia shows that it will take 80million plants established into critical source areas within the catchment to make a meaningful difference to water quality in the catchment and this is what drives the PRC staff to continue forging ahead.