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From Mountains to Sea
The other day, my kaumātua and I went for a hikoi along the Wharemauku stream on the Kapiti Coast. We walked from maunga to moana — and saw nature’s struggle with human intervention. This stream once flowed, clean and to its own accord. But now, it has quickly diminished into a murky, pond-like swamp.
On our journey we were lucky enough to witness its modest beginnings, a mere trickle in the Maungakotuktuku hills.
Before reaching the township, the stream eventuates into a mass of fast moving water, equipped with fish ladders, proper shelter and space for growth — all appropriate ecological conditions for life to thrive in the waters. Unaware of the ruinous future that lay ahead — the Wharemauku is about to fall victim to the hands of civilisation.
Upon reaching the first drain, the second drain, the third, and so on — not only is it visible (by the copper coloured discharge) that this once clean stream has met its destiny, but it also exudes an uninspiring force of lifelessness.
Orange and rid of life, the stream settles into a stagnant body of water. Out to the moana it slowly pours its last shred of innocence. A casualty to the concepts of progress and innovation, to the corrosive touch of industry and ignorance. A sad, and all too common conclusion for Paptūānuku today.
For the most part unfortunately, these polluted waters that fall on the shores of Raumati are the only part of the Wharemauku that people see. What I learnt from my kaumātua is how important it is to protect and preserve our waterways. In the same week that the Whanganui River was granted legal personhood, I urge Aotearoa to further take pride in maintaining the health and wellbeing of our whenua.