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11 months ago

Selwyn Times: December 13, 2016

8 Tuesday

8 Tuesday December 13 2016 Our People SELWYN TIMES Tackling the massive task of protecting Te Ara Kakariki Greenway Canterbury Trust chairman Craig Pauling is a member of the Te Taumutu runanga and has been working on protecting and improving Selwyn’s environment. He spoke to Tom Doudney about degraded rivers and lakes and which sport he won a world championship gold medal How did you get involved with the Te Ara Kakariki Greenway Canterbury Trust? We founded the trust way back in 2006 and we have actually just turned 10 recently. I’m the only founding trustee still left on the trust. I got involved in the early 2000s alongside some other like-minded people who realised that the remaining native habitat we had left on the Canterbury Plains was pretty vulnerable but also valuable. There is only 0.5 per cent of the original native vegetation left on the Canterbury Plains. We thought something needed to be done and that councils and DOC were probably not going to get to it, so we decided to get out there and get on with it. We initially did a report highlighting all those things and saying that there was a need for restoration rather than just protecting remnants. We felt there was a need to create new places of native biodiversity. Does the trust have any specific goals in terms of how much area it would like to see forested on the Canterbury Plains? It’s a massive task. Our main vision is to create a network of biodiversity across the plains and we have focused on the Selwyn district. We have got such a battle ahead of us that we would probably scare ourselves if we had to think in hectares. But we have planted something like between 50,000 and 70,000 plants so far in 10 years. Selwyn District Council is a big supporter and have done a really awesome job at getting biodiversity back on council owned reserves like Coes Ford, Chamberlains Ford, Glentunnel Domain, Hororata Domain, even Greendale Golf Course. You’ve been around the district for 40 years now. What sort of changes have you seen in the environment over that time PASSIONATE: Te Ara Kakariki Greenway Trust chairman Craig Pauling helped establish the organisation 10 years ago. and how do you feel about that? I remember years ago doing a workshop with Selwyn District Council staff and councillors and the former mayor Kelvin Coe, who was just a councillor at the time, and I remember people saying ‘what would be your number one indicator of a healthy Selwyn?’ I said ‘to be able to swim safely at Coes Ford whenever I wanted to’ and to me that still would be a goal. I think we should be able to swim at Coes Ford any time that we want and we can’t. I haven’t really seen positive change in the Waikirikiri (Selwyn River). Yeah, the state of the Selwyn River does seem to be something a lot of people feel strongly about. The lake, Te Waihora, is another issue. I don’t have the knowledge of it myself because I don’t have the memories of being a kid and going down to the lake. I remember the river more so from my time going down and camping at Chamberlains Ford as a kid. But what I have heard from my aunties and uncles from the marae and a lot of people is that the lake was clear around the edges in the 1970s because of the massive macrophyte weed beds which held down sediment. To me that’s quite amazing – you could go to the lake and see the eels and the flounder swimming. 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SELWYN TIMES Tuesday December 13 2016 9 the rivers and lakes That does sound amazing. To be able to see through the water in the lake would be an amazing feat for us to achieve now. And just to tell you why I think it can happen, my cousins are from Little River and Wairewa/Lake Forsyth, and every year we go out on that lake and harvest the flappers – the young moulting ducks. We have been doing that for the last 10 years, sort of revitalising that cultural tradition. Most of the time in that last 10 years the lake has been pretty bad – it’s warm, it gets algal blooms, it can turn bright green like Te Waihora does. But about three years ago, and I have got photos to prove it, that whole lake was completely clear. I could see down into the water 2m, it was cool to touch, it was beautiful. The main reason why it was clear was that the macrophyte bed grew back in the middle of the lake. It was about three or four rugby fields big and it had an effect on the upper end of the lake. It was full of bird life and fish life. I know right now that that lake is struggling again, its got a massive algal bloom and it’s looking like the summer is going to be really tough out there for the fish and wildlife and even the stock that can die if they drink it. So I have seen things ON THE WATER: Waka ama is a big part of Mr Pauling’s life. good and bad – but generally the picture is pretty bad. How hopeful do you feel about our ability to turn these sorts of things around in the future? From the Te Ara Kakariki point of view I think we have done a good job restoring plants and the birds will follow so I feel pretty positive on that, although we have a long way to go. We have a wee way to go on our waterways. We are all trying to do something about it but whether we are making the hard decisions is probably the biggest question for me. You ran for ECan in the recent elections, was that the first time you had run as a political candidate? Yes, it was. I was actually quite happy with the 28,500 votes I got – but I would have needed 40,000 to get the fourth [regional councillor] place. But with the resources I had at my disposal, I only spent about $500 and it was just family and my wife doing the campaign and we mainly did it on Facebook, I was pretty encouraged with the result. But I am keen to have another go. What are your hobbies? Probably the biggest one is waka ama, which is outrigger canoeing. I have been doing that for the last 15 years to quite NATURAL FIX: Macrophyte beds growing in Wairewa/ Lake Forsyth. Mr Pauling attributes the clear water he also witnessed on the lake that day to the weeds. a high level. I have been to the world championships and to the national championships numerous times. 2016 was a pretty big time for our team here in Christchurch, we won a gold and two silvers at the world championships in Australia and won the national title at the start of the year as well. I am pretty heavily involved in that sport and training kids. I have about 30 to 40 kids, mainly Maori, that I am involved in training up. That’s a big part of my life and I just love it. I get to be out on the water, I train on Lyttelton Harbour and the Avon River regularly – I am on those rivers and waterways every second day pretty much. Have you and your wife (Janyne) got any kids? We’ve got three kids. Mihiroa, who is 12, Meihana, who is 10 and Tainui, who is 9. And you work at Boffa Miskell, what’s your job there? Kaiarataki Te Hihiri – the translation is strategic adviser Maori. Boffa Miskell is an environmental planning and design consultancy. Our Te Hihiri team is our cultural team and we work with our designers, planners and ecologists to engage with iwi and hapu, as well as do specific work directly with iwi and hapu. How long have you been at Boffa Miskell? I’ve been here for just over three years. 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