In May 2021 two Environment Canterbury staff, Adrian Meredith, Rachel Tutty, and Ian Whitehouse (an independent facilitator) visited the Island to talk about resource management and the Essential Freshwater package(external link).
Adrian Meredith is a Principal Scientist of Water Quality and Ecology based in Christchurch and Rachel Tutty is a Planner based in Timaru.
Adrian, a seasoned Chathams visitor with six or so trips under his belt, was there for two purposes.
Firstly, for the same purpose as every trip that he takes biennially, to build the picture of data gathering on the Chathams; changes, trends, issues and how to refine and improve the water monitoring programme, respectively.
With 15 years’ worth of this data, he also went to present a report containing this information.
The second purpose was to talk to Islanders about the Essential Freshwater package, which was Rachel’s primary reason for visiting.
Rachel, who had not had the privilege of visiting before, in her planning capacity wanted to work with key agencies to create a plan for implementing what is required under the Essential Freshwater package.
Seeing the Island
Their trip ended up starting a little late, with fog on the Island delaying their flight in, so they arrived only one day before the workshop.
This resulted in one long day of driving around large parts of the island seeing any changes in the challenges Islanders face in living on and farming the island.
It was a rushed day, but hugely valuable to go into the workshop prepared and informed.
Both found the scouting mission a great opportunity to gain a clear picture of what is happening and changing, including an obvious shift from predominantly sheep farming to much more beef cattle.
Rising to the challenge
With an expectation that the workshop would be heavily affected by the challenges the Island faces, Adrian and Rachel were blown away by the can-do attitude of all who attended.
Despite the difficulties and obstacles, the three agencies in attendance, the Chatham Island Council, the Ngāti Mutunga o Wharekauri Iwi Trust and the Hokotehi Moriori Trust, were all positive and supportive of engaging with and implementing the package.
Having representatives from all three agencies together in one space was a real win. The agencies were all on the same page and brought a positive energy.
The reality is that there are many issues, including waste management, water shortages, unreliable bores and stock access to lakes and streams, but perhaps the biggest barrier is the cost of implementation.
That was why Adrian and Rachel were so impressed with the enthusiasm they met.
As a result, there will be ongoing discussions on possible changes to the way the Chathams approaches resource management, including managing and monitoring rivers, lakes, and the lagoon.
As a newbie to the Island, Rachel was surprised by how big the Island is and how diverse the landscape. She found it a beautiful environment and loved the native vegetation.
A highlight for both Adrian and Rachel was meeting new people and building relationships. As a new initiative, Adrian was identifying and measuring the characteristics of groundwater bores.
They really appreciated how engaged and positive everyone was and wherever they visited they received a warm welcome.
All in all, it was a great trip that highlighted how hardy Chatham Islanders are, ready to tackle challenges face on.
Thanks for always being such great hosts to Environment Canterbury staff!