The Bay of Plenty Regional Council supports this work by co-funding riparian fencing, planting and wetland restoration and creation. The council also monitors water quality improvements in the Nukuhou and Waiotahi Rivers to see where more attention is needed.
Another member of the Nukuhou North River Stream Group and Fonterra farmer Norman Craig says, “We’ve teamed up with the council to show that we are trying to make a difference. We want to comply with their standards and we encourage them to come out and run tests on our farms.”
“We want to find out if some plants are better at filtering than others or if it just looks beautiful,” says Paul.
Each farmer in the group contributes annually to have their farm’s finances and inputs analysed by external consultant, Alison Dewes, who then produces an environmental and business report. The Bay of Plenty Regional Council also provides up to $1,500 per farm in support.
Within the next three years, the group aims to identify each farmer’s strengths and how they can learn from each other to reduce their overall impact on the environment.
“We know the reports are going to show us there are areas we can take action and improve. We’ve all acknowledged this and are ready to change.”
The Nukuhou River is tested five times per year, and Bay of Plenty Regional Council Land Management Officer, Charles Harley, says the results are showing positive trends.
“While it is improving and trends are heading in the right direction, it’s still a work in progress and the farmers in the area acknowledge this,” says Charles Harley.
In 2015, Nukuhou River won an award for the most improved river and since then has shown meaningful improvement in total nitrogen, E. coli and clarity.