A festival to celebrate the Manawatū River and its catchment is taking place at Hardie Reserve beside the Fitzherbert Bridge in Palmerston North.

Te Oranga o te Awa – Manawatū River Improvement Festival - is hosted by the Manawatū River Leaders' Forum, which is made up of iwi/hapū, industry, farming, environmental, recreational leaders and local government representatives, including Tararua mayor Tracey Collis.

The leaders' forum has been in existence since 2010.

All members are signatories to the Manawatū River Leaders' Accord and have pledged to improve the state of the river.

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Independent chairman Richard Thompson says the festival aims to provide the community with an opportunity to enjoy the river environment and learn about work under way to improve and enhance the river and catchment.

"The festival will include a Rangitāne kapa haka performance, live music and food trucks to create an awesome atmosphere for people to enjoy," he says.

"Accord members will be onsite with information about what work is under way to improve the awa and interactive activities suitable for children such as looking at native fish and invertebrates will be available. There will also be information about how people can get involved in caring for the river if they wish.

"A lot of people don't understand the breadth of work under way to improve the Manawatū Catchment so this is the prime opportunity to hear about it. From planting over two million plants to managing nutrients and protecting habitats, to supporting over 57 community projects and fencing over 800 kilometres of waterways to keep stock out – every little bit counts."

Thompson says this is the second river festival the accord has organised, with the first taking place in November 2018.

"That event was really well received so we thought we'd give it another go, with the hope that it will become an annual event along the length of the river from Norsewood to Foxton. We really hope people take advantage of this free event and come along."

The November 2018 festival also celebrated the launch of a new website for the accord and a progress report to mark milestones from the 2016-21 Action Plan.

This year's river festival will be held on Saturday February 1 from 12 noon until 3pm.

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*To view the progress report, action plan and learn more about the accord visit www.manawaturiver.co.nz

*For more information about the Manawatū River Festival see the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/2845297805521473/