Working hard . . . Volunteers take on planting duties at Te Punatarakao wetland on the Waihao River. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

South Canterbury residents are invited to get their hands dirty for the sake of river restoration this weekend.

Te Runanga o Waihao is hosting a community planting day on Saturday at Te Punatarakao wetland, on the Waihao River.

Te Runanga o Waihao environment committee chairwoman Sara Eddington said the area held “huge significance” for the iwi of both Waihao and Arowhenua.

She invited residents along to join in planting native plants at the wetland from 11am, as restoration projects were important for both current and future generations.

“This is a collective responsibility of all Kiwis and the only way to make any measurable difference is working together.”

Ms Eddington said Te Mana O Te Wai Wainono Lagoon Restoration Project was about restoring the wetland and river as well as mahinga kai (traditional food) species to the area.

She said people needed to understand the importance of restoring the wairua (spirit) of the area via such planting projects, before traditional food gathering practices could be brought back.

“The Waihao River and the quality of the wai [water] needs to be sustained and acknowledged as a whole, then we can restore mahinga kai.”

Ms Eddington said it broke her heart that her children and other children would not learn the traditional skills she did as a child, or have a spiritual connection to the river.

“Instead we will hand them a legacy of degradation and a generation of work to restore the damage already done.”

The planting day has been supported by the Lower Waitaki South Coastal Canterbury water zone committee, the Ministry for Primary Industries, Department of Conservation and Department of Corrections – which grew the seedlings to be planted.

The planting day will be held on Saturday from 11am at the end of Bradshaw’s Rd, Willowbridge. The location will be signposted from the road end at the old Bradshaw’s Bridge site. For more information phone (03) 689-4726.Sports brandsShop: Nike