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Vetiver developments in the Cook Islands gains momentum

Tuesday 5 July 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Environment, National

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Vetiver developments in the Cook Islands gains momentum
Children with signage promoting vetiver at the World Food Day. SUPPLIED/22070411

Cook Islands has been featured by The Vetiver Network International (TVNI) as a case study Small Island Developing State in a review of Vetiver System applications.

The Vetiver System addresses environmental management issues by leveraging the unique characteristics of a non-invasive tropical grass – Chrysopogon zizanioides – more commonly known as vetiver. The grass is fast growing (20 centimetre a week), and has a dense, and fibrous root system which grows to a depth of three metres in the first year.

Local community groups featured in the review include Te Vai Ora Maori (TVOM) who have successfully lobbied for vetiver as a disposal field crop for the proposed Muri septic reticulation and are now seeking to mitigate the impact of the operations of the new Te Mato Vai drinking water treatment system by planting the sludge storage ponds.

Earlier this year, TVOM acting-chair Justine Flanagan presented vetiver as “domestic infrastructure” to the influential Cook Island Business and Professional Women organisation, bringing opportunities to the attention of government’s Development Co-ordination Division and Climate Change Office.

“It’s socially, environmentally, and economically responsible for us to protect our environment – working with nature. The benefit is that this thinking is scalable,” Flanagan said in a statement. “From the rain falling on your section to our largest infrastructure projects.”

The Avana vetiver site. SUPPLIED/22070412

Organics association Natura Kuki Airani has promoted vetiver as a cropping method – as a buffer for organic certification, chop-and-drop mulch, critical to the success of rain-fed farming, the statement said.

Muri Environment Care’s riparian planting projects use the grass as a pioneer plant, to stabilise developed waterways and enable the restoration of native biodiversity.

Te Ipukarea Society are using the grass as a nature-based defense against over-topping of the new geo-textile stepped seawall in Avana.

Local expertise on Vetiver System is provided by Avana Vetiver’s Andy Kirkwood, who has established a nursery and Vetiver System demonstration site in Avana Valley.