Developing the Concept

Our largest spring

In August 2023, the Houghton Valley Progressive Association revived the Lifting the Creek project and organised a workshop called Te Mauri O Te Wai in Haewai / Houghton Valley.

After being knocked back with getting this project up and running several times, the idea behind the workshop was to get beyond the impasse of authorities and local officials not doing anything because there is always something more urgent to fix or not enough money, despite being very supportive when we suggest what could be done to fix the problem.

We wanted to discuss what we know and would like to do, so that we could develop a brief for the project. Getting everything we know out of people’s head and into an inspiring document would be an essential first step towards creating a brief. From a brief could come a concept plan and then a developed design plan. We also wanted to work out how we could engage with authorities so that they could help us to advance the project, rather than expect them to do so. In other words – collaboration.

An early suggestion for a wetland area for the lowest fields

Along with 14 interested locals, the workshop was attended by Julie Anne Genter of the Green Party and Yadana Saw of Greater Wellington Regional Council. Julie Anne said that if the Green Party get into government, they will specifically set aside $100 million for projects such as ours, estimating that ours would be about $10 million. There was a possibility of getting a mention in an article in The Post about this policy, but if it was published it wasn’t obvious. Yadana suggested we contact our Ward Councillors and ask them to put the project into the Long Term Plan, and that WCC had a ‘Petition’ system that forced the Council to look at any approved request with over 20 signatures. One of the locals suggested contacting engineers who had a community ‘give-back’ system to provide some advice towards the concept plan.

In following up with WCC, Cr Tim Brown said that they had been discussing the project but it sounded like they were nowhere near ready to commit money to it. Hence our original plan of working through the preliminary design solutions to create a workable solution for them, rather than waiting, is more relevant than ever.

Our Full Petition to WCC

WCC’s petition process only allows a small amount of text even though you can provide as much as you like in website links, which we have certainly done! However, we would like to record what we would have liked to have asked the Council as it includes important decisions we made about the process going forward:

We, the undersigned, request that Wellington City Council put the following project into the 2024-2034 Long Term Plan.

“The remediation of the closed landfill in Haewai / Houghton Bay in order to: 

  • Reduce the leachate contamination of Taputeranga Marine Reserve and Haewai / Houghton Bay Beach; 
  • Eliminate strong hydrocarbon odours from our stormwater drains contaminating residents’ homes; 
  • Divert fresh overland, storm and spring water away from becoming contaminated with leachate in the current under-landfill stormwater system; 
  • Create a new natural stormwater management system that provides and complements a natural habitat for our non-human residents; provides an engaging space for recreation; and enables food gathering (mahinga kai, rongoa forests) and water gathering (fresh water springs).” 

This project has been called by the local residents as ‘Lifting the Creek’, and is not only an environmental restoration project, but a project that is bringing the community, and will bring the creek back to life. As we prepare for an uncertain future, this project will continue to revitalise the community and the environment over the next decades, just as the 20+ years of rubbish tip slowly destroyed the community.

We are fully aware that this project will take time and require a large amount of funding, but we know that this project can be done in stages. These stages include:

  • Stage 1: Development of a design brief for the entire catchment. The concept design already created by the community would be the starting point for the development of a detailed design brief through a collaboration of Houghton Bay residents, Mana Whenua, WCC staff and outside design consultants;
  • Stage 2: Construction planning and implementation for the first section of the project, with community involvement;
  • Stage 3 +: Further sections undertaken as funds permit.

We request that WCC commit at least to the first two stages of this project for the 2024-2034 Long Term Plan, as further sections can be added to subsequent Long Term Plans as funds permit. Also, with a clear pathway forward, there will be an increase in potential for obtaining funding from Regional, National and even International agencies.

Starting the Concept Design

After compiling the ideas from the workshop and previous design ideas, we now have a start towards the Te Mauri o Te Wai Haewai. There is till plenty more to do, but no worries!

The wetland and planting on mounds at Tawatawa Reserve provides workable inspiration