Key points from the structured interviews conducted by Waitao-Kaiate Environment Group

  • The respondents generally supported the water and habitat quality improvement goals of both Te Awa O Waitao Restoration project and the Waitao-Kaiate Environment Group. The respondents tended to be long term residents of primarily lifestyle properties within the Waitao Valley section of the catchment.
  • Those respondents with waterways on their property (70%) had various levels of planting and fencing of margins. Eight respondents (19%) did not undertake any form of management.
  • Wetlands and drains were as common as stream margins and should therefore be included in future management plans.
  • The most commonly stated value of the Waitao Stream and its various tributaries was  aesthetic (i.e., natural beauty and ecological value) followed by usage (i.e., recreation, stock and emergency domestic supply).
  • Water clarity, condition of stream banks and visibility of aquatic life were the most common assessment criteria for water quality. However, perception of local quality (and change in quality over time) was variable and probably linked to the location of the respondents within the catchment. Those in the upper parts of the catchment were more likely to have perceived no change in water quality over the last few years.
  • The most commonly mentioned environmental issue in the Waitao Catchment was stock access to the stream, with the proposed deposition of waste landfill in the old pumice quarry the next most frequently mentioned. By far the most common perceived solution to local environmental issues was to fence and plant stream margins, to exclude stock, reduce other material entering the waterways and combat bank erosion.
  • 93% of respondents had observed the weed clearance and planting on Maori land at the bottom of the catchment as part of Te Awa o Waitao Restoration Project. The overall assessment of this was very positive. Values associated with Kaiate Falls Reserve were primarily associated with aesthetics and recreation use. However, security issues were mentioned as a deterrent for local use.
  • 40% of respondents were involved with the Waitao-Kaiate Environment Group, mostly through attending meetings or planting/potting days.
  • The vast majority of these respondents found the activities to be worthwhile and had learnt something from their involvement.
  • Participants who were not involved with the group were supportive of the group’s goal(s). There are a number of potential future members among the respondents. The 2007 report can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Enquiries about this research should be directed to Dr Paula Blackett [email protected] or Dr John Quinn [email protected]