General news

Te Kakano Aotearoa volunteers at a planting day in Otago
21 September 2018

Finalists for New Zealand River Stories announced

The finalists in the New Zealand River Stories category of the New Zealand River Awards have been announced to coincide with the celebration of World Rivers Day on 23 September.

“World Rivers Day is a time to celebrate the world’s waterways,” says Cawthron Foundation Chair Dr Morgan Williams. “This international day highlights the many values of rivers and strives to increase public awareness and encourage the improved stewardship of rivers around the world. What better time to acknowledge some of New Zealand’s own river champions and heroes who will be celebrated at the New Zealand River Awards on 13 November.”

At the annual awards evening the best New Zealand River Stories are announced. Rivers are important to all Kiwis and there are many inspiring stories about projects caring for and researching rivers that involve community collaboration, science teams and innovative ways to address the health and resilience of rivers.

All the 2018 entries are magnificent examples of individuals, communities, organisations, and businesses doing something positive for local waterways. The three finalists are from across New Zealand:

  • In Auckland, advocates have been active on Oakley Creek (also known as Te Auaunga), one of Auckland’s longest urban streams. Oakley Creek is accessible to the public for almost its entire length and since 2004, volunteers have been protecting and preserving the creek environment.
  • On the East Cape, Mere Tamanui has merged the ancient Māori principles of environmental guardianship with modern scientific methods in the Gisborne district, reconnecting whanau to their ancestral awa.
  • Over the past ten years Te Kākano Aotearoa Trust, a Wanaka community-based native plant nursery, has planted upwards of 35,000 trees in the Upper Clutha area and has received funding to expand its riparian planting programme with another 24,000 trees.

The Most Improved River Awards, which recognise the most improved rivers in each region and nationally, will also be announced at the awards evening. Judging is currently underway by scientists from Cawthron Institute, NIWA, and the University of Canterbury to determine which rivers show the greatest long-term improvement based on a specific water quality indicator.

Each year a different indicator is used, and 2018 looks specifically at phosphorus levels. However, in contrast we previous years, the analysis will also include a more holistic approach to river health and will consider the E.coli, nitrogen, phosphorus, and the macroinvertebrate community index. The winners are determined using monitoring data from the Land, Air, Water Aotearoa database (LAWA). Cawthron Institute freshwater scientists work with regional councils to produce the trends and analysis within this database.

About the New Zealand River Awards:

The Awards were established by the Morgan Foundation and the NZ Rivers Trust in 2013. They  receive valuable support from regional and local councils and many other freshwater stakeholders.

Cawthron Foundation took the River Awards over in 2017. The Foundation has generous financial support from Lane Neave, Tourism Holding Limited, the Department of Conservation, Ministry for the Environment, and the Gawith-Deans Family Trust to run the 2018 Awards.

Invitations have been sent out for the 2018 NZ River Awards dinner and ceremony being held in Wellington later this year on 13 November. The keynote speaker is Simon Upton, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

Cawthron Foundation is a charitable trust launched in 2015 to raise donations, bequests and endowments for public good science, as well as scholarships to support talented emerging scientists.