Co-Governors welcome Ahuriri Lagoon funding

The Co-Governors of Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere (Environment Canterbury, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Selwyn District Council and Christchurch City Council) today welcomed the Government’s announcement of funding of more than $1.2 million for a new wetland and improved habitat to ensure the future of mahinga kai in the Ahuriri Lagoon and downstream Huritini/Halswell River.

Co-Chairs Lisa Tumahai (Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu) and Steve Lowndes (Environment Canterbury) said the project would improve water quality, biodiversity and mahinga kai values in the currently drained and degraded Ahuriri Lagoon and downstream Huritini/Halswell River, also providing a pathway to improve the water quality of the associated catchments feeding Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere.

How a wetland can help to improve water quality in the catchment

“This will be achieved by constructing a wetland fed by the Huritini/Halswell River that will improve water quality by reducing nutrient and sediment passage and creating an open water area designed for mahinga kai with adjacent riparian planting restoring the Lagoon’s function for both Ngāi Tahu and the local community,” the Co-Chairs said.

Ahuriri is a site of great significance for Ngāi Tahu and has a long history as a mahinga kai resource for Ngāi Tahu whānau.

The wetland is being set up as a demonstration site to show what can be achieved with constructed wetlands for nutrient “stripping”, meaning intensive monitoring and demonstrating results to landowners in the catchment.

A shared commitment to restoration and rejuvenation

Co-governance restoration activities at Ahuriri Lagoon started in 2013. Environment Canterbury then developed a restoration plan for the regional council’s endowment land that comprises the Ahuriri Reserves.

An Ahuriri Steering Group was formed comprising community representatives who developed a draft of Te Mahere Whakahaumanu o Ahuriri/the Ahuriri Lagoon Restoration Plan.

This draft was approved by the Te Waihora Co-Governance Group at its August 2016 meeting.

“The project will build on research by NIWA (funded by the Whakaora Te Waihora programme) demonstrating that constructed wetlands around Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere are a viable mechanism to reduce nutrient passage, and will make a significant contribution towards achieving the goals in Te Mahere Whakahaumanu o Ahuriri/the Ahuriri Lagoon Restoration Plan,” the Co-Chairs said.

“This funding will help us greatly towards reaching our objectives for this important ecosystem.”

Read more acout the Te Waihora Co-Governance programme.