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Whakaora Te Waihora

Whakaora Te Waihora restoration programme

Pied Stilt Steven Howard

To restore and rejuvenate the mana, mauri and ecosystem of Te Waihora and its catchment.” That is the vision for Whakaora Te Waihora — a bold cultural and ecological programme underway now to return Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere to its former glory.

illustration spoonbill

The Whakaora Te Waihora programme is the operational programme of the Te Waihora Co-Governance Group to restore and rejuvenate the mana, mauri and ecosystem of Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere, and it began in 2012. We believe it may take two generations to achieve the vision but, as the work is intended to sustain the lake to provide for many generations to follow, we are committed to making it happen.

What we are working to do

The Whakaora Te Waihora programme is working towards the restoration of the lakeshore, in-lake habitat, the tributaries entering Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere, and enhancing the water quality, mahinga kai and biodiversity values.

Want to learn more about our vision for Whakaora Te Waihora?

What has happened so far?

Thank you to Papatipu Rūnanga, the landowners, local residents, agencies and others who have worked hard to make this happen.

The Whakaora Te Waihora programme delivers multiple projects to restore and rejuvenate the mana, mauri and ecosystem of Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere. Some of these include:

  • Planting over 350,000 plants.
  • Re-establishing two wetlands - Te Repo Orariki and Whakaora Te Ahuriri 
  • Working towards the restoration of Te Waikēkēwai/Waikēkēwai Stream through a co-managed project led by Te Taumutu Rūnanga  
  • Supporting the Weed Strikeforce, which is working towards eliminating weeds and willows form the lakeshore, and is delivered by the Department of Conservation
  • Establishing real-time monitoring of lake water quality 
  • Rebattering 21.3km of waterways to reduce sediment.
  • Completing scientific investigations, including for fisheries management, lake opening, mahinga kai bio-health, nutrient processes and more.
  • Supporting Te Ara Kākāriki’s ‘Kids Discovery Plant-out’ programme to reach over 1000 students.
For more in-depth information, read the annual summary reports. 
About the lake: did you know it was once called ‘Te Kete Ika o Rākaihautū’ (The Fish Basket of Rākaihautū)?

That’s because it was once rich with food and other wildlife and plants. For Ngāi Tahu, Te Waihora has outstanding significance as a tribal taonga for its cultural and archaeological sites and as a source of mana.

It has been described as ‘the most important wetland habitat of its type in Aotearoa New Zealand’ and is also an area of recreational and commercial importance to our whole region.

That’s why Whakaora Te Waihora is underway today.