E. coli contamination from sheep and cattle is afflicting the Wharekopae River. The Rere falls and rockslide that form part of this river are major swimming sites for locals and visitors. Permanent signs at these sites warn people not to swim due to the risk posed by E. coli bacteria, which many ignore.
Since 2015, Gisborne District Council (GDC) and Beef and Lamb New Zealand have been engaging with Rere farmers to try and raise water quality together to a swimmable standard. Farmer interest and participation in the project has been high and this report tells the story of the Rere Project to date, including lessons, next steps and strategic implications.