The Puhinui – revitalising the mauri of a south Auckland waterway

With support from the Jobs for Nature Fund, SBN is working with mana whenua to assist the revitalization of Te Awa o Puhinui and its surrounding communities.

The Network is working in support of the Waiohua collective. The Waiohua collective has led the creation of Te Whakaoranga o te Puhinui. The collective brings together the mana whenua of Te Ākitai, Ngāti Tamaoho and Ngāti Te Ata. It’s working in partnership with Eke Panuku and the Healthy Waters department of Auckland Council. It’s also supported by the wider Auckland Council family. This includes The Southern Initiative, Manurewa and Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Boards and Kāinga Ora. Together they’ve signed Te Whakaoranga o te Puhinui Collaboration Charter. Developed by Auckland’s Resilio Studio, the plan to transform the Puhinui won a 2021 International Federation of Landscape Architects Asia-Pacific Award. It also featured in Auckland’s ‘virtual room’ exhibit at the recent COP26 international climate change negotiations in Glasgow.

This investment will get restoration mahi underway, building skills and training programmes. Pieter Tuinder is SBN’s nature programme manager. He says:

“The Waiohua collective has embedded a whakapapa approach that prioritises the connection between people, place and nature. It takes a holistic approach to revitalising the mauri, the life force of this tupuna awa, these ancestral waters. We’re delighted to be able to act in support.”

The work embraces the Te ao Māori conception of the land, the rivers, the oceans and the broader taiao as primal ancestors. It aims to strengthen and deepen that whakapapa for local people around the stream.

Many of the communities around the Puhinui struggle financially. There’s high unemployment and low wages. They are especially vulnerable to the job losses and health impacts of Covid-19. These southern suburbs have the least amount of urban ngahere in Tāmaki Makaurau. Canopy cover is around 8%, compared to 18%-30% across the rest of the city. There’s a lack of reserves and green spaces for families and residents to walk, exercise and play.

But transformation is coming. The strategy combines capital investment and strategic action. It will create careers in restoring nature. It will create safe places for residents and workers to enjoy. It will support local food growing.

The work will contribute to ōhanga āmiomio – the development of Aotearoa New Zealand’s circular economy. This means keeping resources in safe circulation, eliminating waste and pollution. The project has a strong commitment to purchasing goods and services ethically and locally. This will emphasise working with Māori, Pasifika, women and the young. Businesses will help build this local regenerative economy. The area will be economically, ecologically, socially and spiritually rejuvenated.

This initiative needs more investment. The project team is reaching out to business, philanthropy and the Government. If you’d like to know more contact pieter@sustainable.org.nz