Money for Mahia

 Support for the Mahia community from the Eastern and Central Community Trust will help two significant projects, with General Manager Jonathan Bell saying both benefit the small coastal community and add to environmental care.The Mahia Boating and Fishing Club receives $10,000 towards the cost of building a new boat ramp at Whangawehi and the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group receives $4,000 for its school education programmes. For boaties setting off from Mahia, repairs to the Whangawehi ramp are becoming urgent, says club treasurer Joe Hedley. “The ramp was built more than 20 years ago and the concrete is breaking up making it difficult for boats to launch safely,” he says. It is the only boat ramp between Gisborne and Napier, providing important launching for recreational boaties and rescue vessels. Other boats launch directly off the beach around the other side of Mahia Peninsula but there is no properly formed ramp and rescue boats would need to travel around Portland Island to respond to any distress callouts.

 Mr Hedley, who is a regular fundraiser in Mahia for community facilities, says the cost of concreting the Whangawehi ramp is approximately $27,000 and, unless additional funding can be found, the work may have to be done in stages. There is also a fundraising campaign underway to build retaining walls around the ramp to help protect the carpark and launch area from erosion, which is threatening some of the Crown-owned land. The $4,000 for educational programmes related to water quality, wetland conservation and tree planting will help pay for equipment and bus hire when Te Mahia School students head outdoors on field trips.

 Secretary of the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group, Rae Te Nahu, says the school children are learning the importance of protecting the quality of the water in streams that flow into the Whangawehi River which wends its way to the ocean. “In this technological age, children don't always get such a hands-on experience. The Te Mahia children are blessed to have this opportunity,” she says. Project coordinator Nick Caviale says involving the school's 54 students gives them a better understanding of the management group's work. “The kids love being involved and there is a tremendous transfer of knowledge from the older people – it's quite a buzz,” he says. “We're grateful for the community trust funding as it's often difficult to find the money for such school programmes but this one also reaches out into families and the knowledge learned will be a powerful tool in the long term.”The children learn how stream water is monitored, about the water quality and ecology in a way that matches the school environmental curriculum.

 The management group, formed in 2011 in response to water quality concerns and actively working to protect the environment since 2013, has planted 200 native trees along the river bank in the past year. Another 16,000 trees have been planted on farmland upstream from the Whangawhei bridge and the group plans to plant another 30,000 this year. It has also worked to fence off and develop a 30 hectare riparian strip along the river to help guard against adverse leaching into the stream.


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