Native birds Lake Ellesmere

Date: 15 December 2017

The Co-Governors of Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere (Environment Canterbury, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Selwyn District Council and Christchurch City Council) today reported the achievements of the first five years of the Whakaora Te Waihora restoration programme and looked to the future.

Co-Chairs Lisa Tumahai (Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu) and Steve Lowndes (Environment Canterbury) said the programme had succeeded in the first phase of delivering on its vision of restoring and rejuvenating the mauri and ecosystem health of Te Waihora and its catchment.

“This is a testament to the hard work and commitment of many people, and the highly effective partnership between the organisations involved,” the Co-Chairs said.  “However, there is much still to be done – it will take two generations to fully realise the vision.  This is in addition to more than 10 years of restoration work already undertaken by Papatipu Rūnanga, landowners, agencies and others around the lake.”

Key achievements of Phase 1:

  • Re-established a wetland (Te Repo Orariki – Taumutu Wetlands), in partnership with Te Taumutu Rūnanga
  • Weed and willow control at priority sites – willows have largely been controlled on the eastern shore of the lake
  • Real-time monitoring of lake water quality
  • Scientific investigations, including for a trial establishment of macrophytes planted behind wave barriers, the lake opening, mahinga kai bio-health, nutrient attenuation and nutrient cycling
  • Supported Lincoln University on the development and implementation of an integrated monitoring strategy
  • Supported Te Ara Kākāriki to deliver the Kids Discovery Plantout
  • Implemented restoration actions for the Huritini/Halswell River, Waikekewai Stream, Hart’s Creek, and the Kaituna River
  • Established a robust programme management structure for reporting, financial management, contract management, health and safety, and risk management.

Phase 2 is well under way. The Co-Chairs said an investment approach and funder engagement plan for 2017-2027 is already being implemented.

“Recently we 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,” they said.

“This is very exciting because Ahuriri is a site of great significance for Ngāi Tahu and has a long history as a mahinga kai resource for Ngāi Tahu whānau. Work will start in early 2018.

“There is much to do and we are very well positioned to deliver it. The future of Te Waihora is in good hands,” the Co-Chairs concluded.

By the numbers – Phase 1

  • More than 200,000 plants planted at 81 sites
  • Re-battered 21.3 km of waterways to reduce sediment
  • 5 Farm Environment Plan (FEP) workshops, 53 FEPs, visits to 25 farms, 2 field-days
  • Kids Discovery Plant Out reached 11 schools and 1000 students
  • 101 stories on and more than 1100 followers of the programme’s Twitter account (@tewaihora)
  • 2 science hui

Background – Te Waihora

As well as being an internationally significant wetland, Te Waihora has outstanding significance for Ngāi Tahu as a tribal taonga, representing a major mahinga kai and an important source of mana.  In Ngāi Tahu history, it was Rākaihautū and his son Rokohuia who first landed the Uruao waka on the South Island/Te Waipounamu, many centuries ago.

Rākaihautū travelled down the island beating the land with his kō and leaving the inland lakes.  The original name for the lake is Te Kete Ika o Rākaihautū/The Fish Basket of Rākaihautū, in reference to the lake being a considerable tribal resource.

Te Waihora is a mahinga kai of great importance to Ngāi Tahu and participation in food and resource gathering on the lake is as important now as it was for early Māori.  A commitment to customary use implies sustainable use and the need to manage, protect and restore species, habitats and ecosystems.

Ngāi Tahu now focuses its relationship on the protection and enhancement of threatened species to the point where they can once again be used by Ngāi Tahu whānau.

Aims of Phase 1

Phase 1 of the programme (2012-2017) focused on 5 key aims:

  1. Accelerate the restoration of ecosystem health of an internationally significant wetland, notable for its wildlife and native vegetation values
  2. Begin the process of restoring and enhancing specific cultural sites and mahinga kai
  3. Protection and restoration of lake margin wetland habitats, existing indigenous native vegetation and wildlife, and restoration of specific lowland tributary streams and riparian habitats
  4. Improve lake and catchment management practices by focussing on sustainable land use and drainage practices within the catchment
  5. Establish a robust monitoring and investigations programme that ensures the lake response to management is understood and management activities are adapted accordingly.

View the full Summary and map of the Achievements of Phase One and the programme details of Whakaora Te Waihora.