If streams are the lifeblood of Papatūānuku, and intertwined with the health of people, then we have some work to do in Māngere. For the past six years, our Talking Rubbish team has been supporting our community to reduce and regenerate waste, and we’ve noticed that waterways seem to be gathering places for the waste that our community doesn’t know what to do with, and wishes would just go ‘away’. We’ve also seen the potential that our streams hold, to be places of connection between people and the natural world, and to help us understand our unique place in the ecosystem.
So when we were offered the chance to support our local community to connect with and care for our Māngere streams, we were in! With support from our Local Board and the Healthy Waters team at Auckland Council, we began a process of listening to the stories of our streams and learning what it is that they need from us, and what we need from them, in order for us all to thrive. In the process, we’ve engaged with over 60 different local and regional groups, marae, organisations, businesses, parts of Auckland Council and Government, and have facilitated a shared journey of discovery.
Our first gathering was held at Makaurau Marae back in March of this year, where we named our connections to the waterways and started to explore how we might share our stories and knowledge of the streams with each other. Then in May, we took participants on a bus tour of the four Māngere streams- Oruarangi, Pūkaki, Harania and Te Ara-rata. At each stream, various people from the group shared from their own knowledge and experience of the streams, including input from Makaurau Marae, Pūkaki Marae, ME Family Services, Te Ara-rata Stream Team, Kāinga Ora, The Whitebait Connection and the Wai Care education in schools contractor. We encouraged people to listen to what the streams were saying to us, with all of our senses, and be open to the potential that they hold.
Finally, in June, we held a workshop at ME Family Services and used regenerative processes to image the current and desired future state of our waterways, where both streams and community are thriving. We identified some guiding values and principles, drawing on the unique spirit of Māngere. And we started to explore what might be needed to move our streams to a more regenerated state.
Through each of these events and our ongoing stakeholder engagement, we’ve heard a consistent message of a desire to collaborate and work together towards common goals. Whilst it’s recognised that there are significant challenges for our waterways, there is also hope and a sense of potential. Life continues in our streams, despite what’s been done to them, and people keep turning up to planting days and clean ups to play their part.
With funding approved for this project for another year, we’re continuing to facilitate opportunities for stakeholders to explore how they might work together, with the potential for developing a forum for ongoing collective visioning, collaboration, project development and planning. We’re also continuing to raise awareness of the stories and significance of our streams amongst our local community networks, so please help us spread the word. Our streams need us, and we need them.