Newsletter No. 246

February 5, 2024

Kia ora koutou,

It’s probably still okay to say Happy New Year, especially as this is the first newsletter for us. Everything starts ramping up in February, and that of course means January has seen quite a bit in the way of planning. Below is a bit of what has been happening or is about to happen.

Weeding on Te Raekaihau

Saturday, 10 February, 10am – 12 midday

There will be a session weeding the very last remaining controlled sites of Old Man’s Beard, which are about to drop their seed. The weeding will be next to the track and off track. They will provide tools and gloves but please bring your own if you can. Afterwards there will be some kai. If the weather looks dodgy check the FB Event.

Te Ohu o Te Raekaihau will also be having a stall at the Island Bay Festival on 11 February, along with several other conservation and restoration groups from the South Coast. Check out what’s going on and sign up to help over the coming year. Te Ohu o Te Raekaihau

Working bee at the community hall

Sunday, 18 February 

The Houghton Valley progressive Association are having a meeting at 2 pm to vote on their new Constitution, which has had to be rewritten to conform to the new Incorporated Societies Act. Afterward there will be a working bee at the hall, to give both the grounds and the inside a bit of a spruce up. Non members are welcome to come to the working bee, say about 3 pm. We would love to see you!

Seeds to Feeds

Saturday, 2 March 5.30 – 8.30 pm

We are having a Seeds to Feeds local food celebration coming up soon, now for the fifth time. It will be at the community hall, and again will feature yummy vegetarian and vegan food, including our signature forage salad.  The koha based ticketing system will be set up soon, but for now just save the date and more promotion will come soon.

Playground update

Our community led third option design for the Buckley Reserve playground upgrade is finally getting some traction. Houghton Valley School will be using it as a Term 1 project, and the ideas produced will help inform the final design and artworks will be incorporated into the playground itself. A Māori designer will help with the concept to include community suggestions to celebrate Tāwhirimātea (God of Wind) and Tangaroa (God of Water) and local Māori history.

Update on Lifting the Creek

Wellington City Council asked us to present our petition to the Environment and Infrastructure Committee meeting on 1 February. Our aim was to request enough funding to commission an overall plan for the catchment, and to have a say in the choosing of a consultant who would work with us to achieve a solution that would respect and enhance our natural environment.

However, it ended up more complicated than that, as we discovered that Houghton Valley landfill has finally got to the top of the priorities list and that Wellington Water had already proposed a $7 million solution to reline the pipes to keep the stormwater from being contaminated by the landfill leachate. WCC officers have commissioned an independent report to check if this was an appropriate solution to the problem, which is due in March.

So we had to defend our solution as being a better option than the Wellington Water proposal, not so difficult in the end with some helpful advice from a water engineer.

Wellington Water were coming from the standpoint that leachate gets into the pipe during heavy rain and is flushed out to sea. Our standpoint was that if the pipes are sealed the leachate accumulates and follows the bedrock down to the sea anyway.

Deputy Mayor Laurie Foon proposed an amendment at the meeting, for the WCC Officers to:

  • Provide clarification on what the proposal of the pipe fix will do to the accumulating leachate in the landfill;
  • After the commissioned report has been received to report on the level of community engagement required and if there is an ecological option that can be progressed.

The amendment was voted on unanimously, and we have a strong lobby group within the Councillors themselves, so that is encouraging. But what is worrying is that the actual situation is complex and is being overlooked. The leachate appearance is often quite mysterious. One can’t say “Oh it’s raining hard, I will go down and take a photo.” So if any of you overlook the bay or visit it regularly and have seen the really bad leachate, please contact with your observations of when it appeared in relation to rainfall before, during or after, and perhaps the amount of water coming out of the pipes. We might seriously need some evidence from local observation!

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