Off the Top of My Head
By Paul Murray
Seventy-five positive people from all walks of Karamea and Little Wanganui life spent a sunny Saturday afternoon at the Last Resort on August 12 learning more about the Community-Led Development Programme (CLDP) and our partnership with the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA).
Many others registered apologies, calving prevented many farmers from being able to attend and submissions were received from former Karamean Owen Jennings, who now resides in Auckland and the Guppy Family from somewhere in S.E. Asia.
Karamea has been granted a 5-year partnership with the DIA through its CLDP. The department will offer advice as well as financial, logistical and professional support for community projects in our region. There are five communities across New Zealand to have this chance to improve their lot and Karamea is currently the only one on the South Island to have been selected.
Buller Community Coordinator Pete Howard from Buller REAP welcomed people to the hui and introduced Megan Courtney from Inspiring Communities Nelson, who got the momentum flowing, kept time and encouraged everyone to engage and participate. Dyan Hansen from the DIA Greymouth office also attended to explain the CLDP and her role in liaising between the DIA and the Karamea community.
Clive Hellyar from Karamea Community Incorporated (KCI) spoke about the rapidly changing world in which we live and the need to factor into plans ways to mitigate the likely effects of climate change and to be flexible, innovative and adaptive as we charter a course into the future. He then spoke about the CLDP and outlined the possibilities for the community as well as explaining the role of KCI in the process.
The KCI committee successfully applied for the partnership agreement and is the community group recognised by the DIA to facilitate the partnership, communicating with the government department, receiving and distributing funds, meeting all compliance requirements and enabling the programme to flourish.
Presentations from successful community organisations followed and speakers from the Karamea Estuary Enhancement Project (Barry Chalmers), Little Wanganui Hall and Beach Day (Kirsty Barkman), Karamea Winter School (Raramai Adcock and Kathy Ramsay) and the Oparara Wilderness Trail Run (Lynda Pope), celebrated their achievements by sharing stories about their respective organisations to provide attendees with good examples of community-led projects and to inspire our imaginations on what is possible if we work together as a community.
After the formalities were completed and the programme explained, Ms Courtney asked the gathering to acknowledge that they supported the concept and considered it beneficial to our community. The response was enthusiastic and unanimous. People then formed groups and worked together to brainstorm ideas and discuss how they might best take advantage of the opportunity before them.
Participants were asked to fill out a short questionnaire and share their ideas for a better community…The idea cards were then stuck to the wall under the headings of; Infrastructure, Environment, Economy & Income, Education & Learning and Social, Cultural & Community. Participants were each given three coloured stickers, asked to read the ideas and then to stick a dot on the ideas they liked best. Table groups then discussed the ideas that received the most support and each group then gave a brief verbal report back to the hui about the idea they had debated.
The ideas included:
- The establishment of commercial kitchen to enable food processing, compliance with regulations and the development of a “Karamea” brand.
- The Clean Streams Karamea project for riparian plantings along watercourses to improve stock management, increase production and return to farms and to reduce nutrient runoff into our streams and rivers and estuaries and sea.
- Permitting mountain biking on the Oparara Valley Track and the construction of a “Pump Track” for local and visiting cyclists.
- The erection of a large “Hokioi” eagle on the Karamea bridge to welcome visitors to the region
- Supporting the proposed road linking Little Wanganui and Tapawera.
The idea cards will be displayed in the front window of the proposed Karamea Café building opposite the Karamea 4 Square supermarket along with other information about the hui and about the CLDP and our community association with the DIA.
In recent years, our community has been threatened with the closure of our police station and by Cyclone Ita…We banded together and rose up to fight for the survival or our police presence and to help each other tidy up after the storm. These are good examples of reactive community cooperation.
The achievements of the Oparara Valley Trust and the recent Karamea Autumn Harvest Festival, which was organised by Sacha Healey, Brendan O’Dwyer and a team of community volunteers, provide great examples or the power of proactive community cooperation. Through the CLDP and with the support of the DIA, our community has the chance to proactively work together to improve our lot and make life in our special place even more wonderful.
KCI Chair Peter Moynihan thanked everyone for attending and contributing to the future of Karamea. In closing, he summarised the day and the community well and laid us down a gauntlet challenge in his closing words by saying, “The Karamea community is great at working together to overcome adversity…Our energy, empathy and spirit of cooperation come to the fore when things go very wrong…Well, here is something that has gone very right, and it is a real opportunity for our community to shine.”
The hui was funded by Buller REAP, Chef Vinnie Dunford catered for the event with a tasty array of fine cuisine and Shelley Neame and Kylie Martin looked after kids at the Karamea Kindergarten to enable parents to attend the meeting.
(Paul Murray is the current secretary of KCI)