The Manawatū river was once one of the world’s most polluted rivers. Millions of dollars have been spent on improving water quality, but farm run-off, industrial discharges and sewage are still big problems for the river, which winds through the region bearing her name.
To try to improve the river, there have been major efforts by locals and a big planning process that led to the Horizons Regional Council One Plan for water, which was seen as a benchmark in the country. A wetland reserve with many rare bird species sits at the mouth of the Manawatu.
Sadly the One Plan rules have been bent to accommodate farmers, who continue to pollute the river.
River restoration groups such as the Save Our River Trust, Forest and Bird and the Environmental Network Manawatu are working hard to clean up the river, but if the law is not enforced pollution will continue to undermine their good work. The iwi of the river, which includes Ngāti Rangitane, Ngati Raukawa and Muaupoko, are all actively working for the restoration of the awa to what was once a source of food and life for their hapu.