Ministry for Primary Industries director of regional economic development Stefan Corbett with Taranaki Catchments Communities chair Donna Cram at the launch of the organisation in Eltham on Friday.
Taranaki farmers working to be more sustainable have received a $1.25 million funding boost.
The money was announced at a launch event in Eltham for the newly-formalisedTaranaki Catchment Communities (TCC), a collective of 14 farmer groups based around river catchments.
It will be used for priorities including monitoring stream health, managing invasive weeds and pests, improving financial literacy, and developing specialist environmental knowledge.
TCC chairperson Donna Cram, who farms at Awatuna, said she founded the group because farmers were going through the biggest changes they had faced in decades, including new freshwater policy rules.
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“We are seeing so much legislation coming at us and I felt farmers were a bit apathetic. I felt we needed to get ahead of the game a bit,” she said.
An initial $50,000 MPI grant enabled TCC to engage with local communities at the start of this year to establish 14 catchment groups around the region.
“Supporting and empowering farmers to control their own destiny will result in long-term sustainability for them and their communities,” Cram added.
Key industry bodies and community organisations, including Federated Farmers, Dairy NZ and local authorities, were supporting the work, too, she said.
Representatives from the various groups attended the launch on Friday, along with farmers and guests including MPs Glen Bennett and Angela Roberts, South Taranaki District Mayor Phil Nixon and several councillors.
“We’ve been impressed with the support this project has already received to deliver meaningful change for rural communities throughout Taranaki,” MPI director of regional economic development, Stefan Corbett, said.
Venture Taranaki regional strategy and sectors manager Anne Probert said farmers were “front-footing” change by coming together to collaborate.
The TCC initiatives also tapped into the region’s 2050 Roadmap and economic development strategy, Tapaue Roa, she said.