Pauatahanui Inlet Community Trust

The Pauatahanui Inlet is the larger of the two arms of the Porirua Harbour.   It is an estuarine area of great ecological significance for the lower half of the North Island.


The Pauatahanui Inlet Community Trust (PICT) was established in 2002 to ensure that the inlet and its catchment is managed to:

- enhance the quality of the environment by protecting the integrity of existing ecosystems and by restoring degraded ecosystems wherever possible


-  foster community awareness and understanding of the management responsibilities that various management agencies and other bodies have within the Inlet and its catchment.
 
The key responsibility of the Trust is to facilitate the implementation of a community developed document - Pauatahanui Inlet Action Plan: Towards Integrated Management.
 
PICT aims to facilitate the community working alongside statutory authorities; Porirua City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and the Tangata Whenua, Te Runanga o Toa Rangitira, Ngati Toa, to protect and manage the environment of the Porirua Harbour in an integrated way.
 
The Harbour is at a critical point, with 50,000 people in the catchment putting pressure on this fragile ecosystem.  There is an urgent need to foster community understanding and concern for this unique marine environment and so support the work of local authorities. 
 
In its founding document Pauatahanui Inlet Action Plan – Towards Integrated Management PICT set out a comprehensive set of issues that needed to be addressed to protect the Harbour and timeframes for these to be achieved.
 
 
Living Waters
In its 2008-9 review of the action plan, education and communication were identified as needing urgent attention.   In order to rectify this, the PICT Trustees endorsed a dynamic proposal to make a series of 12 (monthly) short documentary films called “Living Waters”.

 

Meet the makers


Cheryl Cameron – Producer / Director

 
Cheryl has lived within 20 metres of the shore of the Pauatahanui Inlet in Porirua Harbour for 32 years. She has made over thirty documentary films, most of them in series, since beginning as a researcher in TVNZ’s Documentary department in Avalon Studios in 1984. In 1991 she started independently directing her own films, and has covered a wide-lens of topics such as science, health, history, ecology and politics.
 
In 2000 she was a finalist for Best Documentary in the Qantas Media Awards For ‘The Last Resort’ about the residents of a retirement village.  In this film the topics of life, love, ageing and dying were covered with pathos, humour and honesty. 
 
Cheryl won two awards for ‘Destination Disaster’ a television documentary about the sinking of the Russian Cruise Ship the Mikhail Lermontov in the Marlborough Sounds, the TV Guide New Zealand Television Awards: Best Director in 2000 and Best Documentary at the Qantas Media Awards in 2001. 
 
Cheryl created two wildlife films for National Geographic.  In 2001 for ‘A Tale of Three Chimps’, about the last circus chimpanzees in New Zealand, she was awarded a Certificate of Creative Excellence at the USA and World Film and Video Awards, and in 2002 she Directed and Researched ‘In Search of the Moa’ about the unfortunate journey to extinction of New Zealand’s largest native bird. 
 
Q & A with Cheryl
 
How did the Living Waters Project come about? 
“Like all projects really, you have an idea buzzing around in your head for years, and suddenly a way of doing it becomes clear. This (Living Waters) probably had about a 30 year gestation.”

Cheryl had made the pilot to a children’s wildlife series, and Jenny Brash (Mayor of Porirua at the time), saw it. Shortly afterwards she became a trustee for the Pauatahanui Inlet Community Trust (PICT) which wanted a trustee who would develop their communications strategy.
 
“The PICT trustees have been fabulous.   They’ve helped raise funds and have been remarkably supportive.   Because many of them are highly qualified and connected with the community  they were interviewed numerous times, and gave me great contacts to talk to.   Keith Calder, Porirua City Council Harbour Strategy Coordinator has also been very helpful”. 
 
Why do you think it’s important, what do you hope it will achieve?
Cheryl hopes that the Living Waters project will reach a wide audience.   People who have only previously seen the harbour as scenic, perhaps with only a superficial view of it, those people who say “oh, are there still fish in the harbour?” will be empowered to look after it. 
“I also hope that we will give the people who love and care for it, who already have a lot of knowledge, a whole lot more, that they can use in their endeavours to help restore it.” She says. 
 
“I hope overall that we will raise awareness, that we will give people confidence that what is being done is going to work, and what they do will contribute to the health of the harbour, that it can be restored and that it can be an ecological gem.”
 
What surprising things have you learnt since you started on this project?
“We thought we knew the harbour…but nearly every day when we’d go out filming, we’d learn something new. Walking along the beach with John Wells was amazing, he could look at a trail on the intertidal sand and pick up a shell, and tell us what it was, what it did & how if fed. The day that we went fishing with Mike Joy in the streams in Whitby and found Kokopu and short-finned eels, then in the Porirua stream we found a young long-finned eel. The stories that people told us, like how sensitive native fishes are to tiny parts per million of cadmium. Minute concentrations can completely stuff-up the reproductive systems of native fish. The sensitivity of the environment became so clear, the levels at which pollution can have an affect on the environment is staggering.”
 
What’s been the biggest highlight for you?
“I’ve really enjoyed the way people have told us stories. They have all been storytellers, that’s what we hoped would happen. We could never have told the stories without the generosity of the community. We wouldn’t have the knowledge, skill, passion, historical footage, stories of childhoods & growing up, scientific knowledge…it’s been incredible. ”
 
Do you feel like you’ve gotten to know the landscape better as well?
“Definitely.   The whole-scape. I was thinking about the reserve and getting to know all the plants that the volunteers have put in up there and how each tree and shrub is there for a purpose. The knowledge that’s gone into the planting of that whole place is extraordinary.

Another thing I really enjoyed was the NIWA scientist interview about the Rig. Without this estuary, the commercial Rig fishery would be lucky to survive. This is the spawning ground, the nursery for all kinds of species. If you take away this, if you disrupt, interrupt, tamper with this delicately balanced, ecological system, you will never know what you’ve destroyed. ”
 
All along, with the filming, Cheryl and her Co-pilot Matty Warmington tried to give people a different and unusual perspective - filming underwater, from boats, in Waka, on the back of the jetski with the harbour ranger. “Our intention was always to enlarge and widen people’s view, and to make it beautiful and affecting.”   They’ve been working together for more than two years now.  Cheryl says “working with someone who is skilled, committed and passionate is great.  It’s a very satisfying collaboration.” 
 
Q & A with Matty Warmington - Cameraman and Editor extraordinaire
 
What’s your connection to the harbour- how long have you lived here?
“I have lived in the area all my life.   I grew up in Mana View road just up from the boatsheds at Mana. My whole childhood was spent down at the boatsheds, fishing and playing in the harbour.”
 
How long have you been making films?
“I've been shooting and editing for the past 15 years. My main passion was making documentaries on artists, now its shooting wildlife!”
 
How did this project come about? 
“This is a dream project for me as its something close to my heart and home. I had been working with Cheryl Cameron for a year or so on various smaller projects. One day she called me and said she had an idea...Cheryl has great ideas!”
 
Why do you think it’s important- what do you hope it will achieve?
“This project is important for the future health of the harbour and our waterways. I see this project as a celebration of what I love most about living here by the water. I hope these videos raise awareness of the effects of living by waterways in built up suburban areas. I hope it sparks positive change in regulations to protect the harbour. ”
 
What surprising things have you learnt since you started on this project? 
“I had no idea there were so many Stingrays and Rig in the harbour, nor that you could catch large Snapper up until recent times. “
 
What’s been the biggest highlight for you?
“As a child I grew up watching National Geographic every Sunday night. I have always dreamed of filming wildlife and it’s a dream come true doing it on my own front door. Sneaking up on the beautiful birds in the inlet to film them is great fun. Its like hunting but shooting footage not guns.”
 
If someone else was going to do a project like this, what advice would you give them?
“Know the area! I think the biggest advantage we have had taking on this project is knowing the harbour so well. We know where the birds will be, what time of the year the Stingrays come, where the sun sets and the sun rises. That said though, I thought I knew every inch of the harbour, but here are still many parts to discover.”