Kaiwhaiki Pa's new water scheme is up and running and could eventually provide for 40 new houses at the Whanganui settlement, project manager Anton McKay says.
The project has cost about $400,000, with most of that funding from the Ministry of Health. At the moment it supplies 40 homes, two kohanga reo, Kaiwhaiki Marae and the Mere Te Aroha Hall. Most also have rainwater tanks.
It all started in 2015, with a report from MWH on a possible upgrade. McKay took on the
role of project manager, under the Kaiwhaiki Marae Trust. His technical skills - he's an aircraft engineer - made him the more qualified of all the unqualified people available.
Having the skills gave him the responsibility of taking on the job, he said.
"We just do it because we need to. That's our contribution to our people and our future."
The pa's socio-economic level made it eligible for $380,000 from the ministry. It was expected to provide 15 per cent of the funding or work itself, then maintain the scheme into the future.
Kaiwhaiki is the biggest marae on the Whanganui River. With the scheme successfully completed it will now be able to advise other communities or marae, McKay said.
Pa residents contributed their 15 per cent of the project by doing the trenching, fencing and tank foundations. Funding to connect the water to houses was provided by Te Puni Kōkiri, and other funds came from the Te Ati Hau Trust, the Powerco Wanganui Trust (now Four Regions Trust), Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui Trust and others.
The main contractor was Excel Mechanical, with A P Plumbing connecting the water to the homes.
All the water for the scheme comes from Te Puna o Kakawai, gushing out of a hillside near the pa. It has always been good water to drink, McKay said, but quality is compromised by erosion and by cattle grazing the hill above.
In the old scheme water from the spring was pumped to tanks with 40,000 litres of storage and distributed to pa houses in alkathene pipes.
The new scheme is bigger, more complex, and completely automated. In it water from the spring is pumped to a filtration shed, where it is sand-filtered and disinfected by ultra-violet light. Then it is pumped to six 30,000 litre plastic tanks on a hilltop - a total of 180,000 litres of storage.
There has to be enough water to last up to seven days, in case the Whanganui River floods and decommissions the spring.
The new scheme distributes the water in 1300m of new polyethylene pipe - healthier than alkathene.
McKay reckons it will all last at least 50 years and form a foundation for the next marae developments - a possible new whare kai and an upgrade of the wharepuni, Te Kiritahi.
After that could come a development of 30 to 40 new houses.
"The marae is a valuable place for our people. As a marae we need to be thinking about progress. We can tick off this major milestone and move on to the next project," he said.