Hamilton City Council has collaborated with local kura kaupapa (Maaori immersion school) Te Wharekura o Kirikiriroa to show how the city’s three waters services connect with the mauri (life giving energy) of the awa (river).
This first-of-its-kind resource will give Hamiltonians a hands-on experience and a glimpse into some of the Waikato River’s rich cultural history and significance to iwi and mana whenua, while showcasing the water treatment processes and waters infrastructure operated by Council.
The model brings to life the journey of our drinking water, stormwater, and wastewater as they travel from the Waikato River to the pump stations and treatment plants around our city, then onto ours homes, schools and businesses. Users of the model can pump water, turn taps on household appliances, imitate a wastewater blockage in a pipe and watch how plants along the banks of a waterway or stormwater catchpit can affect the flow of stormwater into the river.
“This model is special in that it brings into the infrastructure space koorero (conversation) around Maaori maatauranga (knowledge) and beliefs,” said Council’s City Waters Manager Maire Porter.
“We aim to operate our water networks in line with Te Ture Whaimana o Te Awa o Waikato – the vision and strategy for the Waikato River. While we usually talk about what that means for our pipes and treatment plants, this resource means we can open the conversation to what it means for our awa, iwi, mana whenua, and our community.”
One of 19 Council projects funded by the Department of Internal Affairs under the Three Waters Stimulus Programme, the model is designed to encourage behaviour change in how our residents interact with the three waters services and infrastructure and, most importantly, the river and its streams.
Through specially designed artwork and table skirting, Hamiltonians will also learn about historical paa sites on the riverbanks within the city and the journey of the river from Lake Taupoo to Port Waikato.
Te Wharekura o Kirikiriroa teacher Petiwaea Waitai joined the project team to make the table skirt and riverbank artwork, with her class of Year 7 and 8 students drawing from their memories of the sites of significance for them along the Waikato River.
“There is a deep personal connection between Te Wharekura o Kirikiriroa students and the awa and we were fortunate that they would share these memories with us. Those finishing touches have created a mobile education resource that can speak to many different elements of the Waikato River and our need to look after it.”
The model is available to hire for free from Hamilton City Council for any community groups or schools who wish to explore our waters story.