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The Whakaora Te Waikēkēwai project

Waikekewai Stream banner v2

Restoring the lower to mid reaches of the catchment of Te Waikēkēwai/Waikēkēwai Stream is the goal of Te Taumutu Rūnanga and the Whakaora Te Waikēkēwai project.

The stream signifies an important whakapapa/genealogical connection as it flows through Te Pā o Moki/the pā (fort) of Moki II) down through Ōrāriki/the pā of Ruahikihiki. This entire area was once a great mahinga kai site, where whānau/family could gather resources as the stream flowed through rich wetlands before reaching Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere, which is of great cultural importance to Te Taumutu whānau.

Restoring cultural and ecological values

Te Taumutu Rūnanga is one of the 18 Papatipu Rūnanga of Ngāi Tahu, with more than 23,000 members. The whānau of Taumutu descend from the tīpuna/ancestor Te Ruahikihiki and his son Moki (II) who settled at Taumutu in the seventeenth century on the shores of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere.

As the catchment landscape was converted to farms following European settlement in Aotearoa New Zealand, wetlands disappeared, the water course changed and became degraded and opportunities to gather mahinga kai were all but lost to the Rūnanga.

Despite the extensive degradation of the stream and landscape, Te Taumutu Rūnanga never gave up on the vision to restore the cultural and ecological values of the area.

Whakaora Te Waikēkēwai addresses three key issues including poor water quality in Te Waikēkēwai/Waikēkēwai Stream, the loss of mahinga kai and cultural values from the Te Waikēkēwai landscape and the loss of aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity, resulting from a degradation of the stream, wetland and riparian habitats.

"We created a long-term restoration plan in 2013 and each year have implemented focused restoration projects, including creating Orariki wetland near our marae, restoring the section of Waikēkēwai that flows through our properties, and installing a top-of-the-line, eco-friendly wastewater treatment system.” (Bridget Robilliard, Taumutu Kaitiakitanga)."

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Key objectives

Project partners are Te Taumutu Rūnanga and Environment Canterbury with funding from the Government’s Freshwater Improvement Fund and Environment Canterbury.

The restoration of the lower reaches of the stream, within the Marae grounds including re-creating the Te Repo Ōrāriki wetland, has been completed. It was important for whānau to make sure their backyard was tidy before advocating to others.

The project has three key objectives:

  • To enhance and increase mahinga kai habitat
  • To improve water quality
  • To increase indigenous biodiversity

This will be achieved by working with landowners to:

  • Establish riparian plantings and fencing of 8km of the stream (both sides);
  • Re-create a significant wetland, Te Repo o Papatahora, on iwi land;
  • Deliver on-farm actions for all properties bordering on the stream complementing some of the most stringent planning provisions in the country.

Whakaora Te Waikēkēwai includes additional deliverables that focus on relationships, including open day events and engagement with affected landowners, planting days for children via Te Ara Kākāriki and Enviroschools, and Mātauranga Māori and water monitoring.

Project progress

Started in 2021

Further information

News Getting to know Ahuriri tile

06 Jun 2014

Getting to know Ahuriri lagoon

Ahuriri Lagoon is a significant mahinga kai resource located on the Huritini/Halswell River between Tai Tapu and Motukarara.

Learn more
News Kuaka tile

17 Mar 2015

Kūaka – the bird of mystery

Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere is an important feeding ground for Kūaka/bar-tailed godwits, who migrate every year from their breeding grounds in the Arctic.

Learn more