Natural Environment Recovery Programme launched

The Natural Environment Recovery Programme for greater Christchurch Whakaara Taiao was launched at a community event at Travis Wetland in Burwood on Tuesday.

The event celebrated the collaborative work done since Environment Canterbury was asked by the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, Gerry Brownlee, to lead development of the programme in 2012. It was attended by a number of notable guests as well as local school students.

Environment Canterbury ChaiKapa Hakar of Commissioners Dame Margaret Bazley says Travis Wetland was selected as the venue for the launch ceremony because of the good restoration work being done there and the rehabilitation completed since the earthquakes.

Kahikatea were planted to symbolise new growth, and Enviroschools Bronze recognition was given to Windsor School students, who also participated in the event.

“The programme is very important for the future well-being of all Cantabrians,” Dame Margaret said. “Our natural environment is a central part of our shared heritage and culture. Many of us choose to live in or near Christchurch because we appreciate and value the natural environment – the rivers, the beaches and harbours, the forests and Port Hills – and the activities these special places provide.

“This initiative builds on a great deal of important work by many people and organisations that has been continuing for a number of years.”

Greater Christchurch Mayors Lianne Dalziel (Christchurch City), Kelvin Coe (Selwyn District) and David Ayers (Waimakariri District) attended the event.

Members of Ngāi Tahu hapū Ngāi Tūāhuriri Earthquake Recovery Steering Committee participated on behalf of mana whenua. Ngāi Tahu sees great importance in taking active responsibility for the environment so it is left better than it was found.

Successful recovery requires effective collaboration and co-ordination. The programme was developed with strategic partners Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Christchurch City Council, Waimakariri District Council, Selwyn District Council and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority. Ngā Papatipu Rūnanga, the Canterbury District Health Board and the Department of Conservation are also key partners.

“A robust, healthy environment goes a long way towards making Canterbury and our country as a whole unique,” Dame Margaret concluded. “This programme will help us continue on the path towards fostering an environment that all those living in greater Christchurch appreciate, value and respect. We look forward to working with our communities on a range of important natural environment recovery projects.”