I originally came here today, because as Mayor of Christchurch I wanted to acknowledge the significance of the 20th anniversary of the formation of the Styx Living Laboratory and the incredible partnership it has represented with the Council and all those with a passion for Pūharakekenui.
I wanted to congratulate you on all your achievements of the past 20 years and everyone who has contributed along the way. The phrase it takes a village to raise a child comes to mind – because for me, it takes a community to restore a river.
I knew that the Christine Heremia Field Centre was to be officially opened today as part of the celebration, but I didn’t know her or enough about her. To have a facility named for a council staff member means she had brought more to the place than her work.
And that wasn’t just the strategic approach to getting council to purchase the land in parcels. Christine was the one who introduced into Council the integrated planning approach when it came to land drainage and stormwater management - built upon values such as landscape, ecology, recreation, heritage and culture - that we now take for granted today. A councillor who was quoted at the time said, "This is the kind of planning that I hoped would occur with local government reform".
It saddens me to say that it has taken another set of reforms – not all three waters – but stormwater and its role in restoring ‘te mana o te wai’-that has opened my eyes to the significance of the leadership of people like Christine, and why we need to work hand in hand with mana whenua. Understanding what this place meant for Ngai Tuahuriri has been key to creating the vision for the future.
Protecting this precious ecosytem - Ki uta ki tai – from source to sea –the Living Laboratory it offers to present and future generations – a place to be - and when we come together, that is the promise that this place holds for you and me.
2040 seemed a lot further away when the Styx Vision 2020-2040 was written, but it is even more relevant today.
The Trust was established 20 years ago to develop the 'Living Laboratory" that focuses on learning and research in the Styx River catchment. It goes without saying that knowledge about the Styx River ecosystem and the impacts on it is essential to protecting the river's values.
If we we writing a report card, this wouldn’t be an achieved, it would be an excellence.
But even though I say this, this is not where it ends. This is an inter-generational commiment that we must ensure is passed on.
So today, we are not only celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Styx Living Laboratory Trust, we are also celebrating 20 years of commitment of communities partnering with mana whenua and all the experts, so that there is a sharing of traditional knowledge, local knowledge and technical, scientific and ecological skills and expertise.
And I can’t think of a better way to do this than for the Trust to open the Christine Heremaia Field Centre today.
Mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei – for us and our children after us.