A group dedicated to the core values of 'safe places, healthy water, healthy people' has been operating for just four years, and is keen to show off its success.

Pūniu River Care (PRC) is an incorporated society and a New Zealand registered charity, with the kaupapa (purpose) of enabling local hapu to be involved in the environmental restoration of the Puniu River catchment.

PRC is an established Marae-based river care organisation that has been developed in consultation and support of various stakeholders; including Maniapoto Maori Trust Board, Waikato-Tainui, Ministry for the Environment, Te Puni Kokiri, Waikato River Authority, Momentum Waikato, Waikato Regional Council, Waipa District Council, Department of Conservation, and four marae along the Pūniu River, including Mangatoatoa, Rawhitiroa, Aotearoa and Whakamaramara.

Their nursery is based at Mangatoatoa Pa and they also operate from an office at 291 Vaile Street in Te Awamutu.

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Pūniu River Care riparian planting along the Puniu Awa. Photo / Supplied
Pūniu River Care riparian planting along the Puniu Awa. Photo / Supplied

Since its creation in 2015, PRC has provided employment and work experience opportunities for local people. The current workforce is 28, of which 15 are now experienced horticulture and restoration project workers.

PRC spokesperson Talitha Wanden says they have a proven work delivery model for large scale eco-sourced native tree propagation, planting and restoration projects, successfully propagating and planting about 110,000 eco-sourced native trees during 2016/2017, an additional 200,000 eco-sourced native trees in 2018 and over quarter of a million trees last year.

"With its current resourcing and infrastructure, PRC is able to propagate and plant half a million eco-sourced native trees annually," she says.

Tawhiwhi Karaitiana watering the soil while sowing manuka seeds. Photo / Supplied
Tawhiwhi Karaitiana watering the soil while sowing manuka seeds. Photo / Supplied

Talitha says PRC aligns operations within a kaupapa maori framework and has developed organisational core values to encourage leadership in the workforce and in their whanau.

"With a strong focus on healing the whenua and healing the people, PRC reinforce the connection with papatuanuku to support a sense of belonging and connection through their work."

¦Pūniu River Care Inc. Open Day is on Friday, March 27 from 9am-3pm at Mangatoatoa Pa, 66 Te Mawhai Rd.