The Manawatū River Leaders' Forum has welcomed the MidCentral District Health Board as a new member.

MidCentral District Health Board's general manager Māori Health Tracee Te Huia says the Accord's vision, "if the water is healthy, the land and the people are nourished", aligns well with the District Health Board's vision and mission.

"It will be advantageous for the District Health Board to partner with the Accord in addressing the issues of the awa," says Te Huia.

"It's a legislative obligation for us to support healthy waterways and as the largest employer in the district we are well set to take on the responsibility with our expertise and reach into communities."

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Manawatū River Leaders' Accord independent chairman Richard Thompson says MidCentral DHB is a welcomed member, joining over 50 other forum members that range from the regional, and city and district councils, to iwi, Department of Conservation, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Fish and Game, and Forest and Bird.

"Collectively, we are all working towards the same thing - improving waterways in the Manawatū Catchment so that they are safe, accessible, swimmable, and provide good recreation and food resources," says Thompson.

"One of the many ways we are working towards achieving tasks set out in our 2016-21 Action Plan is through $12.3 million worth of Manawatū River Leaders' Accord projects, assisted by $5.84 million from the Ministry for the Environment's Freshwater Improvement Fund in 2017."

At the forum's last meeting Horizons Regional Council gave an update on how the FIF projects have progressed since July 1, 2019 for the financial year to June 30, 2020.

These include: ·26km of stream fencing and an allocated 94.5km (target is 50km)

·70,506 riparian plants planted, with a total allocation of 105,080 allocated (target is 40,000)

·Three fish barriers allocated for remediation to enable fish passage (target is four)

·14 community projects allocated funding from $100,000 Manawatū River Leaders' Accord community grants fund

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·Land purchased and resource consent preparation underway for Horowhenua District
Council's Tokomaru Waste Water Treatment Plant upgrade to fully discharge to land

·Five iwi management plans sub-contracted for Mātauranga Māori (target of four)

·And as part of Palmerston North City Council's urban streams project, planting along the Turitea and Mangaone Streams is completed, and a consent for the urban eels project has been lodged with construction to take place over summer.

Thompson says this year will mark 10 years since the Manawatū River Leaders' Accord was signed.

"The source to sea initiative, encompassing sustainable land use, biodiversity, and freshwater interventions, through to upgrading infrastructure, water allocation and quality to improve the state of the Manawatū River is very much a long-term project.

"Forum members continually combine knowledge and effort to direct action where it is needed most."

More information on the Manawatū River Leaders' Accord and progress to date can be found at www.manawaturiver.co.nz.