Te Wai Māori Trust supported the Ōmaru Restorative Action Project to restore the mana of Ōmaru, a waterway in Glen Innes, Auckland. This was achieved through a three-day hui called “River Talks” held at Ruapōtaka Marae.

The hui was attended by 300 people and had 30 speakers across a range of topics including the environmental damage and neglect of the waterway, social disparity and justice, and issues around colonisation.

Since 2013 Mad Ave has managed annual awareness and education programs integrating the kaupapa of restorative action within Council plans, local organisations and schools. The engagement portion is aptly named The River Talks. The celebrated engagement event typically happens in February and has done so since its 2013 inception.

Coordinated and Facilitated by Mad Ave Navigator Tāmati Patuwai, Artists; from poets, dancers, graphic artists and musicians together with Iwi historians, researchers, botanists and scientists gather by the banks of the Ōmaru itself to give a full exposé based on the theme of Ōmaru River. The audience is made up of schools, local residents, business owners, Council and Government representatives and the occasional overseas guest.

This entire process has been documented to ensure the kōrero can be clearly understood by all who have a stake in the health of the community and River.

Schools in particular are tasked with ‘in class’ work to assist their learning around the Ōmaru ecology. Local school teachers are particularly generous with their efforts to integrate the River Talks impetus into their curriculums which is in fact one of the most significant impacts from our mahi to date.

They can create art work based on their views of the River and they will have opportunities to study the flora and fauna of the area. Since 2013 approximately 2500 students and 1000 other participants have engaged in some way with The River Talks.

This summer format has had some very successful influence on community awareness building local engagements and education. The River Talks has additionally impacted Council planning and implementation and was the catalyst of the developing O.R.A initiative that is made up of Riparian projects, spray free maintenance work and curriculum support for local schools.

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