Environment Canterbury welcomes River Award

Kaituna River.

Kaituna River.

Environment Canterbury has welcomed the announcement that a waterway in the Selwyn-Waihora zone has won the Morgan Foundation award for the most improved river in Canterbury.

Kaituna River took last night’s accolade, determined by monitored trend decline in dissolved inorganic nitrogen.

Accepting the award in Wellington, Environment Canterbury Chair of Commissioners Dame Margaret Bazley said it illustrated the good progress being made with the local community to improve the ecosystem health of the Kaituna catchment.

Kaituna River is a Banks Peninsula hill-fed river located in the Kaituna Valley, just off the Akaroa Highway, State Highway 75. It feeds into Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere and is 4000 hectares in size and 15 kilometres long.

“The area is very important to Ngāi Tahu, particularly for the Koukourārata hapū of Banks Peninsula who used the Kaituna Valley as their traditional pathway to Te Waihora to gather mahinga kai,” Dame Margaret said.

The decline in dissolved inorganic nitrogen is a positive sign for the river, particularly as much of the improvement is through lower ammonia concentrations. Ammonia is highly toxic to aquatic life and is associated with fresh faecal contamination. Excluding stock from the river margins, although difficult in hill country, creates positive benefits.

“Over the past 12 months Environment Canterbury has been co-ordinating a water quality and cultural monitoring programme in conjunction with local landowners and iwi to get a better understanding of the catchment and learn where the hotspots are to allow informed and targeted responses,” Dame Margaret said.

“There is one major farm in the catchment, Willesden Farms, and good work is being done on the property around fencing and planting of which most has been funded through Whakaora Te Waihora, the joint restoration work programme led by Environment Canterbury and Ngāi Tahu.

“These are good examples of the collaborative Canterbury Water Management Strategy in action,” Dame Margaret said. “There is much left to do – and we will succeed if we all work together.”

At last year’s Morgan Foundation awards, Ōtukaikino Creek in Canterbury took out the supreme award for the most improved river in New Zealand, and the Cam River was the third most improved.

For more information, go to http://www.lawa.org.nz/media/2592318/Most-improved-River-Awards-2015.pdf