Sod turned on $16m river project

Regional Council Kaituna Catchments Manager Pim de Monchy watches as Aroha Wilkinson turns the first sod, supported by Pete Wilkinson, Aubrey Wilkinson, and Kahi Hanara at the Kaituna re-diversion sod-turning.

More than 100 people, including representatives from six Te Arawa iwi gathered at Tukotahi Marae yesterday, beside the Kaituna River, to celebrate the start of construction works that will return freshwater flows from the river into Te Awa o Ngatoroirangi Maketū Estuary.

Ngāti Whakaue kaumatua Liam Tapsell started the celebration by thanking Bay of Plenty Regional Council Project Manager Pim de Monchy and his team for their collaboration with Te Arawa whanui and the local community in bringing the project to fruition.

“Let us celebrate and honour the spiritual essence of the Kaituna and the estuary Te Awa o Ngatoroirangi,” he says.

Regional Councillor and Te Maru o Kaituna River Authority member Arapeta Tahana acknowledged the work of Aroha Wilkinson, the Maketū Action Group, and the wider community in their work since the late 1970s to get the river re-diverted back into the estuary.

“I’m really pleased that as a community and as a nation we’re realising the impacts of some of the things we’ve done to the land and the waterways in the past.

"We’re now making a commitment to turning the tide and making a change for the better. Everyone who lives in this community has been really dedicated to this kaupapa (work) and I want to acknowledge and thank everyone that has played a part in getting the project this far.

"We’re not going to be here forever but this land will be, this river will be, and this moana will be so it’s only right that we do the best we can as our generation to leave this whenua and this environment in a better condition for our children and our grandchildren,” says Arapeta.

Regional Councillor Arapeta Tahana, Aroha Wilkinson and Regional Council Chairman Doug Leeder at the Kaituna re-diversion sod-turning.

As the last surviving member of the original Maketū Action Group, Aroha Wilkinson finished the ceremony by turning the first sod while Ngāti Whakaue Minister Kahi Hanara gave a karakia.

Aroha used a spade that belonged to her late husband Barrie Wilkinson and was supported by her sons Pete and Aubrey Wilkinson.

Regional Council Chairman Doug Leeder presented Aroha with a kahikatea tree which will be planted in the first sod at nearby Whakaue Marae.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council is funding and co-ordinating the $13m construction works which are due for completion by June 2020. $3.6m has already been invested in the planning and land acquisition work completed to date.

People can subscribe to receive email updates or see further information about the project at

Pim de Monchy, Aroha Wilkinson and Pete Wilkinson lead other attendees from Tukotahi marae to turn the first sod on the Kaituna River bank.

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Posted on 13-06-2018 16:31 | By Capt_Kaveman

getting the golden handshake at $16M? this probject i could do for less than a mil

Good work WBOPDC,

Posted on 13-06-2018 15:33 | By unltd1nfantry

for maximising the ecological and cultural benefits (shellfish/whitebait/wetlands) while limiting economic cost and adverse environmental effects. Atleast Western Bay are thinking of the future & making better decisions than TCC (like museums & those stupid water steps at the strand). This is a long overdue project and is not just in favour of iwi but giving back to the whole surrounding community! :)

Hands out

Posted on 13-06-2018 12:34 | By Told you

And just where is the input of money from the iwi?

more special status

Posted on 13-06-2018 10:31 | By Captain Sensible

More special status for "iwi". Where does this privilege come from, because it is not in the Treaty?