Water resilience funding

As Northland moves on from a record year of rainfall, it is hard to imagine that only a few summers earlier, the lush pastures around the rohe were singed brown from the sun and fresh water was sparse.

The drought over the 2019/2020 summer left a lasting impression in Te Taitokerau and exposed significant water challenges, particularly amongst rural communities without access to public water supply.

For these residents, water challenges meant facing daily considerations about how best to use their limited water over the summer months. For some it’s the constant checking of an unfit tank or water source and the ongoing worry and stress of how to provide freshwater for whanau but sadly for many it has become a way of life.

Recognising the water challenges facing many in Te Taitokerau, and as part of its climate action mahi, Northland Regional Council has provided funding to a number of community linked providers to ensure water tanks can be placed where they’re most needed. With an El Nino weather pattern forecast, the mahi is even more critical.

Hone Dalton, project manager for the Kaikohe fund, uses a model that relies on ‘trusted community champions’ to help identify those most in need of water tanks – a system he says works well for his community.

In Kaikohe, Hone and his right-hand man, Phil Young spend their days fitting pumps and filters into a modest pump box – a design they have created and fine-tuned over time to accompany the tanks when they are installed.

Down the road lives fund recipient Tina Broomfield who shares her home with her five mokopuna.

When Hone first contacted Tina about installing a water tank at her property she was initially apprehensive and had a “you don’t get anything for free” mentality.

With support from her son, Tina was able to clear a space for the tank to be placed. His first question, “what’s it like to be having real showers mum?”

“It’s awesome” was her reply. “I’m really thankful - not having to worry about water during the summertime means I can carry on and not worry.”

The water tank means Tina and her whanau no longer deal with sudden hot to cold water temperature changes and she is able to do multiple washing loads a day without thinking twice. Most importantly, Tina won’t be needing costly water truck deliveries over the summer months thanks to her upsized 30,000l tank.

Another area in the Far North to receive funding was Taemaro Bay.

Jackie Edwards-Bruce from Te Rūnanga o Whaingaroa, says the approach taken to manage the fund has been organic and “whanāu driven” with good buy in from community members.

Taemaro fund recipient Sandra Heihei says the recently installed water tanks at the papakainga aren’t just for one home – instead they are situated on the whenua for a collective of whanāu to use.

“Having water available has made a huge difference. We have families that bring their water tanks and containers to refill, we have those that call in to the papakainga and shower and wash. The water tanks have created a puna (spring) and that puna can now sustain the people that come here,” says Sandra.

Building water resilience across Te Taitokerau is just one of the collaborative steps NRC is taking towards addressing climate action in our region.

To find out more about the fun and watch the Water Resilience Fund video head to:

Two men and a woman standing in front of a water tank.

Kaikohe project manager Hone Dalton (left) with right-hand man Phil Young (right) and fund recipient Tina Broomfield (centre).