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Restoration hui identifies green opportunities for Buller

08 Sep 2022

Following the recent Kotahitanga mō te Taiao environmental restoration hui in Westport, a working group identified several restoration initiatives for further development across the top of the South and Buller Kawatiri, which were presented to council last week.

The working group comprised members of the Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance (the Alliance) including Buller District Council.

Buller District Mayor Jamie Cleine says: “The hui put the spotlight on Buller and the specific challenges in our district, including the challenges presented by diverse landscapes, socio-economic deprivation, climate change adaptation, the economic impact of climate change, and environmental hazards like coastal erosion and flooding.”

The selected initiatives have been identified as holding the most potential to achieve transformational change for both people and nature at a landscape scale.

The list of initiatives for Buller includes protection and restoration of the Kawatiri Coastal Trail corridor, establishing an extensive mainland island sanctuary bounded by the Old Ghost Road, the Buller and Mōkihinui Rivers and the Tasman Sea, identifying land optimisation opportunities, developing nature-based solutions to enhance Westport’s flood plain design; as well as a source to sea restoration of Deadman’s Creek to protect, connect and restore fragmented biodiversity, and a strategy to scope out options for Westport’s future town.

Mr Cleine says: “Being a member of the Alliance and engaging in developing nature and people focused solutions for the future, presents a significant opportunity to create long term sustainable change for our district.

The outcomes of the Alliance’s work will spearhead the ‘just transition’ plan for Buller as we shift to a low emissions society and economy.”

In recognition of Buller’s particular vulnerabilities as well as its rich biodiversity, the proposal to the Alliance Governance Group includes initiatives that will particularly focus on and support Buller.

Mr Cleine says: “Considerable work has already been invested in developing the thinking behind ‘quick wins’ for the district. These quick wins are part of the proposal to the Alliance’s Governance Group since they appear to hold strong potential and therefore present limited risk to investment.”

Later this month the Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance Governance Group will decide on next steps to develop, prioritise and resource the proposed initiatives, plan their delivery and confirm the overall timeframe for the mahi.

Mr Cleine says: “The key is that by June next year, we aim to have multiple investment-ready proposals developed to support the implementation of the Alliance’s Strategy in Buller and across Te Tauihu/ the top of the South Island. This will tie directly into Council’s Environmental Improvement and Prosperity Strategy.”

During council’s 2021-2031 Long Term Plan community consultation process the community confirmed the importance of addressing climate change and environmental sustainability.


The environmental restoration hui was held between 1– 3 August and brought approximately 65 participants together including Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance members and supporting organisations across Te Tauihu and Kawatiri.

The hui was facilitated by The Nature Conservancy, a global conservation organisation, which used its extensive experience to develop, facilitate and deliver the hui.

Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance members are Buller, Tasman, Nelson, and Marlborough councils, the West Coast Regional Council, Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō Trust, Te Pātaka a Ngāti Kōata Trust, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Kuia Trust, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Tama ki Te Waipounamu Trust, Te Atiawa o Te Waka-a-Māui Trust, Rangitāne o Wairau Settlement Trust, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae and the Department of Conservation.

The Alliance was established in 2017, to support an integrated approach to helping nature and people thrive across Te Tauihu / the Top of the South and northern Buller.

Buller District Council and West Coast Regional Council have worked with the Alliance for the past five years – a collaboration which has helped Buller District secure more than $1.4 million of funding towards the creation of jobs (six FTE) and a landscape-scale weed control programme in the district.