Waikanae River has been chosen as one of 14 river catchments benefiting from a big funding increase the Department of Conservation received in the 2018 budget.

The budget provided DoC with the biggest funding increase in 16 years with an extra $76 million over the next four years given to help slow the decline and restore Aotearoa's indigenous biodiversity.

The announcement was made at a hui at the Waikanae River last week where community, iwi, councils and agencies gathered to develop a collaborative vision for the river's restoration.

In a statement at the hui, conservation minister Eugenie Sage said her department will be fully supporting the vision of restoring the Waikanae River from mountains to sea, te maunga ki te moana.

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The Waikanae River expressway bridge. Photo / David Haxton
The Waikanae River expressway bridge. Photo / David Haxton

"The river catchments work is focused on improving the ecological integrity and resilience of 14 priority river catchments across New Zealand to restore them to 'a healthy functioning state' in partnership with others.

"I am pleased to advise you that the Waikanae River has been chosen as one of those 14 priority river catchments."

Ms Sage stated DoC will provide operational and technical staff and resources to work in collaboration with iwi, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Kāpiti District Council and the Waikanae community.

DoC has a freshwater stretch goal for 50 freshwater ecosystems to be restored from mountains to the sea which will increase the Department's contribution to freshwater ecosystem restoration across New Zealand.

Waikanae River was selected from a national shortlist that ranked priority river catchments.

Kāpiti-Wellington DoC operations manager Jack Mace said Waikanae River represents a real opportunity for catchment-wide restoration thanks to the existing work of community, iwi and agencies.

"The Waikanae River has high freshwater biodiversity values.

"It also ranks highly in other areas such as restoration potential, involvement of external partners, connectivity between marine and freshwater, and opportunities for delivering on DoC's treaty obligations."

Ms Sage also stated there were opportunities for community groups to seek additional funding for projects on the river from the DoC Community Fund.

The fund is this year directed towards practical projects aimed at conserving New Zealand's indigenous biodiversity meaning applications that clearly demonstrate how a project will protect, restore and enhance natural habitats and native species are more likely to be successful.

Ms Sage challenged the group saying, "Whenever groups like this come together, they will share values but also have differences.

"This group needs to set up to work together effectively for years.

"My challenge to you is to keep this thought in front of you so that everyone can meet here in five or ten years to celebrate what has been achieved together for the Waikanae River, because it is restored to good health."