From 25-28 February, Arowhenua Marae hosted the Environment Canterbury (Ecan) Ōrari, Ōpihi, Pareora zone youth hui.

South Canterbury youth aged between 15 and 25 with an interest in water issues, environmental management and what’s happening in South Canterbury were invited to attend the free four-day hui with a focus on water, its issues and management in the Ōrari, Ōpihi, Pareora Zone.

The purpose of the hui/noho marae was to encourage young people to become more involved in the water management/issues, with a specific focus on the Ōrari/Ōpihi/Pareora Zone.  As the future generation of water users in our region they are the ones who will gain or lose the most from decisions currently being made. This is why it is important to engage young people, providing them with opportunities to learn and to become actively involved.

It is also important to provide opportunities and experiences for decision makers and others to spend time with young people, experiencing for themselves their interest and capabilities in this area.

Debbie Eddington of ECAN arranged field trips and practical activities and workshops for the group. Day one included a trip to Te Ana and a presentation from Mandy Home on her work with native fish, tangata tiaki and cultural health monitoring.

Day two involved a field trip from the foothills to lowlands, taking in the Ōpihi Taniwha at Hanging Rock, water monitoring at Skipton’s bridge on the Ōpuha River and discussion on didymo. At Ōpuha Dam Julia Crossman discussed the operations and the benefits to the local area, Mandy Home covered the cultural perspective, Phil Lees talked about the history of the dam, breach and flood management, and Graeme Clarke spoke on the river ecology and impacts of the dam on this, the groundwater/surface water interaction within the zone and recreational water monitoring.

This was followed by a visit to Allandale Bridge to give an invert comparision of a didymo clean site, then on to John and Sarah Wright’s property to discuss irrigation. Paul Eddy meet the group at the Pleasant Point Sale Yards bridge where the topic was River Engineering and the TDC drinking water and industrial demands on water in the zone.

Mataitai and mahinga kai were part of the evening activities including a spot of eeling.

Day four’s theme was “Your Voice – Be Heard”, guest speakers included Pauline Roberston – youth perspective/local government, Lan Pham – native fish, and Colin Higgins and Maria Foley – using art to express your opinion.

Emma Coleman showed the group around the Awarua planting, Dave Anderson from the Department of Conservation gave a bat presentation, and Hamish Stevens from Fish and Game went over their role.

Saturday morning was spent collating the information and giving feedback, with presentations from the participants.

Well done to Debbie and her team on a very successful and informative OOP Zone Youth Hui.

On-site at the Māori rock art at Hanging Rock.

On-site at the Māori rock art at Hanging Rock.

Students from a number of secondary schools around South Canterbury get to know each other through an energiser game at the marae.

Students from a number of secondary schools around South Canterbury get to know each other through an energiser game at the marae.