Volunteer projects to boost the health of the Wairoa River have been given a $15,000 funding boost.
Wairoa Community Ngahere Nursery and Sport Hawke's Bay Wairoa have each received a grant of $7500 to help fund their Wairoa River-focused projects, from the annual Eastland Group Wairoa Community Contestable Grants Scheme.
The funding scheme was set up as a partnership between the Wairoa District Council and Gisborne-based company Eastland Group three years ago as part of the Waihi Dam out-of-court settlement reached by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council and Eastland Group in relation to silt discharges from the Eastland Group-owned Waihi Dam, near Wairoa.
The Eastland Group Wairoa Community Fund will contribute $15,000 a year towards Wairoa-focused events and activities, for the next seven years.
Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said this year's recipients were all playing an amazing part in protecting and restoring the Wairoa River.
The projects support education and community outreach initiatives as well as encouraging young people to engage in activities that promote healthy relationships with the Wairoa River.
Promoting the relevance and importance of the river in the lives of the Wairoa community was another focus of the projects.
"I am thrilled to see the community on board protecting our awa for the whole of our district," Little said.
"Seeing people who care for our environment step up in a voluntary capacity is just fantastic."
Esta Wainohu, of Sport Hawke's Bay Wairoa, said the generous financial support enabled them to complete their Wairoa River projects, which included riparian planting near the Destination Wairoa playground.
Their application focused on purchasing native plants that were eco-sourced from the Wairoa District for riparian/riverside restoration.
Their itinerary included a Matariki planting day that involved mokopuna from kohanga reo and early childhood centres from throughout the district, which took place last week.
The trees planted to celebrate this event were sourced from the Wairoa Community Ngahere Nursery.
"Our Matariki project ties in with four of the nine stars in Matariki cluster — Tupuanuku, Tupuarangi, Waiti and Waita," Ms Wainohu said.
"These stars embody planting, food from the sky, food from the land, freshwater and sea water.
"Part of our kaupapa was to raise awareness of the true essence of Matariki and how the stars synchronise with our environment and every day living."
Wairoa Community Ngahere Nursery's Leanne Whatuira was thrilled to get a grant which she said would go towards growing and propagating 10,000 to 20,000 native plants a year.
This required seed-raising mix, potting mix, plastic potting bags, plant-holding trays, fertilisers, pest control and the relevant tools needed for propagating. From there the trees and plants would be planted where the waterways and the land needed healing.
"This grant has enabled us to start our project which is driven by voluntary labour. The group recently became registered as an incorporated society and is now within sight of the required budget to commence building," Whatuira said. "Now that we've been established for some time, we've had approaches from various marae, farmers, individuals, local council and Hawke's Bay Regional Council for the supply of appropriate plants for riverside restoration.
"It was really beautiful and emotional to see our tamariki involved in the Matariki planting event. I'm very proud that our first lot of trees have now been utilised for river restoration planting."
Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd said the company was delighted to continue working with the Mayor and the council to ensure the annual grant scheme had a wide-reaching and positive impact.