Maitai Bay

Maitai Bay

Richard Robbins, my special guest 090909 (don’t you love the date?) on Voices From the North speaks with informed passion for a new project just getting underway with a name you’ll also love—H2O (Hills 2 Ocean).

Richard works at the Far North Environment Centre in Kaitaia and he’s one of those lucky people who are actively engaged in work that marries their strengths and experience. His previous eclectic employment with entities such as Air New Zealand (in Edinburgh and Auckland) gave him useful exposure to marketing and customer service. That vocational background combined with his studies of ecology and environment has landed him in just the right place in the Environment Centre.

This new project which Richard emphasizes is in its formative stages, is designed to assist and encourage the community to do something positive about declining water quality in Doubtless Bay.

Pohutukawa in Bloom on Doubtless Bay

Pohutukawa in Bloom on Doubtless Bay

Richard points out the two main impediments to pristine water are nutrient and sediment loading. Nutrient loading comes from such sources as animal wastes and fertilizers on farms and sediment loading is the erosion we see clouding the Bay each time there is a major storm. This erosion has been exacerbated by the felling of native forests and by excessive roadside spraying and stock and machine damage to river and stream banks.

Inspired by the success of Fred Lichtwark and the Raglan Harbour Caregroup since 1995, Richard would love to see a nursery created to grow hardy local natives for riparian planting. He’s also approached Taipa Area School to get young people involved in qualitative water testing in a project that could be called Wai (meaning ‘water’ and pronounced ‘why’) We Love.

Richard welcomed Suzanne to the Environment Centre. She’s taking on the Sustainable Living Activation Programme. To contact Richard and his team at the Far North Environment Centre phone 408 1086 or email

Feel free to listen to the interview here:

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John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.