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...Read More »

Farmers learn about protecting Māori food sources

Date: 31 October 2017

Environment Canterbury has appointed a cultural land management advisor to help farmers on land near Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere understand and comply with new rules designed to protect mahinga kai – traditional Ngāi Tahu food resources and their ecosystems.

Protection of mahinga kai is enshrined in the...Read More »

Co-Governors welcome Ahuriri Lagoon funding

Date: 16 August 2017

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...Read More »

Second Wave Barrier successfully installed

Date: 3 July 2017

Following on from the success of the first wave barrier that was established at Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere last year, a second wave barrier has been established at the lake.

The wave barriers have been installed to enable submerged plants, known as macrophytes, to become established.

The first wave barrier...Read More »

Electrofishing at Kaituna

Late last year, over 20 Kaituna Valley locals explored the Kaituna River as part of a fieldtrip organised by Environment Canterbury. Sylvia McAslan, Environment Canterbury Land Management Advisor, organised the outing so local people could learn about the fish that live in the river and she says the...Read More »

Promising signs for wave barrier

A wave barrier that was established at Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere recently is showing positive signs for the successful establishment of macrophyte beds.

David Murphy, Programme Manager, Whakaora Te Waihora, says that test results have been very promising to date.

“In October, test results showed that the wave barrier was effective in...Read More »

2017 Te Waihora bird count

On February 11, 2017 over 50 volunteers and staff from a number of agencies undertook the annual census of wetland birds around Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere.

The event was jointly planned and organised by Waihora Ellesmere Trust, the Department of Conservation, Birds NZ, Christchurch City Council Rangers, Environment Canterbury and Keystone...Read More »

Kids planting programme a success

Since 2014 the Te Ara Kākāriki programme has been getting young children involved in planting around Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere through the Kid’s Discovery Plant-out project.

David Murphy Programme Implementation Manager, Whakaora Te Waihora, says we invested in this programme because we saw it as an opportunity to engage with local...Read More »

He Puna Pūtaiao: field trip to Te Waihora

Students at Te Waihora. Photo courtesy of UC Science.

A University of Canterbury scheme aimed at encouraging Māori secondary school students into university science studies has been encouraging rangatahi to consider new pathways for their future since 2013.

He Puna Pūtaiao, a partnership programme...Read More »

Lake opening captured on film

Dramatic aerial footage of the recent opening of Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere to the sea illustrates the scale and challenge of this important task.

Te Waihora is the largest lake in Canterbury and has no natural outlet to the sea. The lake was opened by generations of...Read More »

Lincoln University students learn about Te Waihora

For the past two years the Waihora Ellesmere Trust (WET) has helped Lincoln University use Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere as a case study for their LINC 101 course.

LINC 101: Land, People and Economy, is a compulsory course for every student at Lincoln University. The main aim of the course...Read More »

Community funding available

The Waihora Ellesmere Trust (WET) has established a new fund to support small scale research and monitoring at Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere.

Adrienne Lomax, General Manager, WET, says the fund will allow groups to access funding for projects that contribute to monitoring and reporting on the health and biodiversity of...Read More »

Wave barrier drone footage

The drone footage below shows a 100m long wave barrier that has been established on the south western side of Te Waihora.

The wave barrier has been placed to enable submerged plants, known as macrophytes, to become established.

NIWA freshwater ecologist Mary de Winton believed the barrier to be the first of...Read More »

Opening the lake

An aerial view showing a lake opening. Photos supplied by Environment Canterbury.

Earlier this month you may have noticed something a little out of the ordinary at Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere.  Machinery was working hard to create an access way for water to flow between the sea and the lake.

Leigh Griffiths, Environment Canterbury Senior Engineering Advisor says the lake was opened from 1...Read More »

Health and Safety at Te Waihora

Recent changes to the Health and Safety Work Act have had an impact on the way organisations across the country, operate and David Murphy, Programme Implementation Manager, Whakaora Te Waihora, says the key thing people need to realise regarding the changes is that everyone has a role to play.

“We work...Read More »

Protecting the bittern

In an attempt to protect one of New Zealand’s rarest and most secretive birds the Department of Conservation is running a bittern conservation programme. With the assistance of Environment Canterbury biodiversity funding the programme aims to help the Department of Conservation learn more about the Australasian bittern and increase...Read More »

Wave barrier first of its kind

Wave barrier in place at Te Waihora.

A 100m long wave barrier on the south western side of Te Waihora has been placed to enable submerged plants, known as macrophytes, to become established.

NIWA freshwater ecologist Mary de Winton believed the barrier to be the...Read More »

Testing the water at Te Waihora

Christchurch Boys High School Students and Lincoln University Waterwatch taking samples at Te Waihora.

The year 12 agribusiness class at Christchurch Boys High School (CBHS) is using Lake Ellesmere / Te Waihora as a case study to analyse the impact man has played on the local...Read More »

Co-governance a career highlight

Ken Taylor, who played a leading role in the formation of the Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere co-governance framework, sees the maturing relationship between the partners as critical to the success of Whakaora Te Waihora.

Ken Taylor.

The development of the Te Waihora co-governance framework started in...Read More »

Green Ribbon Award nominations open

Harts Creek restoration has been a great success.


Harts Creek restoration has been a great success.

New Zealanders have the chance to honour the nation’s inspirational environmental leaders at the Green Ribbon Awards, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry say, with nominations for the 26th annual awards opening...Read More »

Working with mana whenua

Kaituna River.

Kaituna River.

Water provides an essential connection between Ngāi Tahu and their tribal territory. Freshwater is intrinsically linked to the tribe’s spiritual, cultural, environmental and social well-being.

Environment Canterbury has been working with Ngāi Tahu to develop a closer relationship, which was highlighted when they...Read More »

Protecting wildlife at Te Waihora

Spotted skink. Photograph courtesy of DOC

Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere is populated by a wonderful variety of birds, reptiles and insects whose survival is often at threat from predators.

Protecting the local wildlife from predators is part of the kaupapa for Whakaora Te Waihora and some...Read More »

Kaitorete home to rare moth

The short-winged,flightless female of Kupea electilis. Photograph courtesy of Brian Patrick.

 Brian Patrick, a leading Lepidoptera expert living at Birdlings Flat, has spent many hours exploring Kaitorete Spit and the wider lakeside in search of rare and elusive moth species. This is a fascination...Read More »

Te Waihora bird survey 2016

Caspian tern. Photograph courtesy of Christchurch photographer Steve Attwood.

On February 13, 2016, around 50 volunteers and staff from a number of agencies undertook the annual census of wetland birds around Te Waihora. This event is jointly planned and organised by Waihora Ellesmere Trust...Read More »

Bird Watch – Curlew Sandpiper



The Curlew Sandpiper at Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere. Photo courtesy of Steve Attwood, Christchurch.

The Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea), is a regular summer visitor to New Zealand – and to the shores of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere – but you probably need to know your birds...Read More »

Environment Canterbury welcomes River Award

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...Read More »

Living Lake Symposium 2015

The fifth Te Waihora Living Lake Symposium at Lincoln University will give participants the opportunity to learn much more about the science and work programmes currently underway to improve the health of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere.

The 2015 symposium – Realising the Vision – the mountains to the sea ki uta ki...Read More »

Mahinga kai series launched

Ngāi Tahu kaumātua Don Brown heads out onto Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere in search of pātiki.

A lifestyle documentary series celebrating the stories and traditional food gathering practices of the Ngāi Tahu iwi  has been launched.

Ngāi Tahu Mahinga Kai is a 12-part online series offering...Read More »

When Mātauranga Māori and science meet


Environment Canterbury and Whakaora Te Waihora staff join Papatipu Rūnanga members for a science update around the lake.

As councils and crown research institutes aim to fulfil their Treaty of Waitangi obligations to engage with iwi in decision-making processes, many are looking to refine...Read More »

Introducing the Leafless Clematis 

Leafless clematis – at home on Kaitorete Spit. Photograph courtesy of Christchurch photographer, Steve Attwood.

New Zealand has eight to ten native clematis species. One of those is the leafless clematis (Clematis afoliata), which has made itself at home on the wild, thin stretch of...Read More »

Bird Watch – Pheasant

The common pheasant. Photograph courtesy of Christchurch photographer, Steve Attwood.



The common pheasant Phasianus colchicus Linnaeus, was introduced to New Zealand in 1842 and after further releases, was well established in both islands by 1870. It is also known as the ring-necked pheasant, the...Read More »

Stopping the spread of aquatic pests

Lagrosiphon entangled on a boat motor.

New Zealand has some of the most beautiful lakes and rivers in the world but we need to stop the spread of freshwater pests so that our waterways stay that way.


It only takes one pair of tramping boots,...Read More »

Bird Watch – Wrybill



Wrybill. Photograph copyright Steve Attwood, Christchurch.

The wrybill, or ngutu parore in Māori, (Anarhynchus frontalis), is a member of the plover family endemic to New Zealand. It breeds on the braided rivers of the South Island and it is the only bird in the...Read More »

Enhanced water monitoring one step closer



The new monitoring system in the centre of the lake.

New water monitoring systems now in place in Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere are expected to improve the overall management of the lake.

Senior Hydrological Officer for Environment Canterbury, Alex Ring says the new systems will provide...Read More »

New life for lake tributary

Harts Creek restoration has been a great success.

Fifteen years ago, Harts Creek, one of the key tributaries leading into Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere, was in trouble.  The stream was silting up, fish numbers had declined and cattle were grazing right down to the water...Read More »

Prostrate broom – a delicate beauty


Prostrate Broom Carmichaelia appressa. Photo courtesy of Steve Attwood, Christchurch.


Very little of our original native coastal vegetation has survived, as farming and urban settlement have encroached upon natural coastal locations. Native species such as pīngao, flax and ngaio have, in many places, been...Read More »

Canterbury geckos adjust to new home


Canterbury gecko/moko-pāpā showing transmitter attachment

In March 2015, 209 Canterbury geckos/moko-pāpā (Woodworthia cf. brunnea) were released in Riccarton Bush. These animals were removed from the Crater Rim Bluffs by abseil access rope technicians because major geotechnical work planned for the area would destroy the...Read More »

Weed Watch – Gorse


Gorse in flower. Photo courtesy Frances Schmechel, Environment Canterbury.

Gorse seeds first arrived in New Zealand in the early 1800s in response to the English settlers’ desire for hedging. A natural lack of control agents in New Zealand, combined with high seed production, unpalatability...Read More »

Bird Watch – Welcome swallow

The welcome swallow. Photo courtesy Rima Herber, Christchurch.

The welcome swallow (Hirundo neoxena – or warou in Māori), is a frequent visitor around the shores of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere. With its rapid, darting flight patterns, its vibrant navy blue, rust and cream plumage and...Read More »

Gecko conservation success

Two of the geckos making a new home in Riccarton Bush.

In March, the first geckos retrieved from the bluffs above Rāpaki after the Christchurch earthquake, were released into their new home at Riccarton Bush.


Te Hapū o Ngāti Wheke, represented by Yvette Couch-Lewis, formally...Read More »

New Life for Greenpark School

Kaiwhakahaere, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Tā Mark Solomon addresses manuhiri (guests).

Kaiwhakahaere, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Tā Mark Solomon, joined Taumutu Rūnanga and Te Waihora Management Board (TWMB) members, at the opening of the Greenpark School site on May 1.


Greenpark School, located...Read More »

Schools committed to tree planting.


Ladbrooks School pupils about to get stuck in to planting. Photo by Te Ara Kakariki.

Children from nine Canterbury schools have committed to the Kids’ Discovery Plantout project this autumn to plant 3000 native plants and Te Ara Kakariki co-ordinator, Brooke Turner is delighted...Read More »

Weed Watch – Ice plant



Carpobrotus chilensis – one of the hybrids easily identified by its deep magenta flowers.

Carpobrotus edulis and its hybrids are classed as Unwanted Organisms in New Zealand and are listed on the National Pest Plant Accord.


This native to South Africa is known my a...Read More »

Decisions on Selwyn-Waihora water plan

Ki uta ki tai – from the mountains to the sea.

Environment Canterbury announced today that Council had accepted the recommendations of the independent Hearing Commissioners on proposed Variation 1 to the proposed Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan.


Variation 1 introduces new policies, rules,...Read More »

Bird Watch - White heron

The rare and beautiful kōtuku. Photograph courtesy Steve Attwood, Christchurch.

You don’t often see white herons at Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere. New Zealand in fact, is near the extreme limits of their geographic and climatic range so they’re rare throughout the country.


They have just one...Read More »

Bachelor’s Buttons – A swathe of yellow


A giant spread of Bachelor’s buttons at Kaituna Lagoon.

There’s no missing the tiny wetland plant, bachelor’s buttons when it’s in full flower; it turns heads as its dramatic golden show spreads its way across low-lying areas around Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere.


Bachelor’s buttons (Cotula coronopifolia),...Read More »

Officials visit


Andy Spanton introducing the group to the WTW plantings on Quaifes Road.

A visit to the Selwyn-Waihora Catchment in early March, has given Government officials a first-hand view of the water conservation work being carried out by Ngāi Tahu and Environment Canterbury.


Environment Canterbury’s Director...Read More »

Kūaka – the bird of mystery

A clear demonstration of the colour and size difference between the male and female kūaka in autumn. The male is already in his brick red breeding colours. Photo courtesy Steve Attwood.

Christchurch photographer Steve Attwood takes a look at the migration patterns of the...Read More »

Te Waihora bird survey


Aliesha and photographer Steve Attwood counting birds in Rennies Bay. Photo supplied by Anita Spencer, DOC.

On February 21, 2015 around 50 staff and volunteers from several organisations undertook a count of all the wetland birds present at Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere.


This year almost 48,000...Read More »

Bird Watch – Little Shag

Kawaupaka chicks. Photo courtesy Steve Attwood.

Only a mother could love these rather ugly little babies, known to Māori as kawaupaka, or the Little Shag (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos brevirostris).

There are around 36 species of shag worldwide and twelve of these are found in New Zealand;...Read More »

Encouraging a new generation of conservationists

Leeston Primary pupils planting spring trees. Photo by Adrienne Lomax.

Canterbury school children are getting behind a new conservation planting initiative aimed at encouraging kids to get involved in Nature and the environment.

Te Ara Kākāriki co-ordinator, Brooke Turner says local schools have been very...Read More »

Weed Watch – Viper’s Bugloss

Viper’s Bugloss

While not a legally declared pest plant, Viper’s bugloss or blueweed (Echium vulgare) is an invasive weed in Australia and New Zealand.

This densely bristled annual or biennial herb has a long tap root and grows to around 50-90cm high. It’s pretty blue-pink...Read More »

Introducing the Common Copper


The Common Copper.

New Zealand’s butterflies and moths occupy a wide range of habitats, from rocky coasts to rugged mountains and if you wander the shores of Te Waihora in summer, you’ll spot a number of different species.

One of the most often seen, is...Read More »

Bird Watch - Kingfisher

The Kingfisher, watching for prey. Photo courtesy of Steve Attwood, Christchurch.

When Christchurch photographer, Steve Attwood photographed this kingfisher, it was busy hunting a large New Zealand bush dragonfly.

The dragonflies were darting across the lake water and the kingfisher launched one attack after another,...Read More »

Lake opening critical for fish recruitment


Dr. Phil Jellyman (left) and Dr. Shannan Crow (right) collecting longfin and shortfin eels in Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere). Photograph by Dave Allen.

Recent research has reinforced that the timing of lake openings is critical to fish recruitment in Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere.

NIWA freshwater fish...Read More »

Introducing Zizina otis labradus

Common Blue Butterfly at rest.

Zizina otis labradus, the Common Blue is one of our most common butterflies, yet, as tiny as it is,  it’s often overlooked.

Widespread in the Southern Hemisphere, it measures between 17 and 27mm and has broad distribution from grasslands and...Read More »

Mimulus repens - A Sea of Purple


Creeping Mimulus repens putting on a show at Kaituna Lagoon.

If you happen to be in the vicinity of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere at the moment, you’re bound to notice the vast spread of purple around various parts of the lake shore.

On close inspection, you’ll...Read More »

Fish rescued from 'low-flow' rivers


Environment Canterbury Park Ranger Makarini Rupene holds a rescued kanakana (lamprey eel), now rare in Canterbury rivers.

Ngāi Tahu and Environment Canterbury are working together to rescue and relocate taonga fish species from the drought-stricken Rakahuri/Ashley and Waipara Rivers.

Tangata Tiaki (customary fisheries guardian), Te...Read More »

Need to protect breeding bird colonies

Story and photos by Steve Attwood


Royal spoonbills at Te Waihora. Photo courtesy Steve Attwood

One of the dilemmas of conservation is how much publicity is too much?

Raising public awareness, and encouraging people to get a real-life experience of our remarkable plants and animals is...Read More »

Encouraging young Māori into science


Nicole Spriggs (Ngāi Tahu ), from Lincoln High School, getting close to an invertebrate in a UC lab.

A University  of Canterbury scheme aimed at encouraging Māori secondary school students into university science studies is already changing lives and encouraging rangatahi to consider new...Read More »

Coalgate farmers enthusiastic about tree-planting

Protective guards guarantee close to 100 per cent survival of native seedlings planted along a tributary of Happy Jack Creek.

North Canterbury farmers Roger and Francie Taylor are planting trees along a polluted stream running through their property at Coalgate, upstream of the Selwyn...Read More »

Whitebait diaries

Staff at Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu have been questioning Te Waihora fishermen about their whitebait catches over the past few seasons with the aim of assessing catch volumes, how much variation there is from year to year and to hear opinions on what time of the season is...Read More »

Breaking new ground

Mary de Winton (centre), demonstrating the potting of macrophytes.

When the massive beds of naturally-occurring macrophytes disappeared from Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere in the 1960s, it was a turning point for the quality of the lake’s water.

Known for their ability to buffer wave action, to...Read More »

Starting at the top

Shading to reduce weed growth. Photo courtesy CAREX

Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere may have a reputation for being one of the most polluted lakes in New Zealand but Canterbury University Professor of Freshwater Ecology Jon Harding is very optimistic about the future of the lake.

Improving...Read More »

Community invited to get involved in Ahuriri restoration

Planting out at Ahuriri.

The local community is invited to get involved in developing restoration options for the ecologically and culturally important Ahuriri Reserves near Tai Tapu.


There has been community interest in the possibility of restoration of the Ahuriri Reserves for many years.  Earlier...Read More »

Whakaora Te Waihora Science Hui

On November 6,  Whakaora Te Waihora held a Science Hui at Lincoln Events Centre, where several workstream and project leaders presented results from recently completed and ongoing research.

Tim Davie, Environment Canterbury and Whakaora Te Waihora Science Workstream Leader welcomed a good crowd and introduced the day’s presenters.

Tom Cochrane (University of...Read More »

Bird Watch - New Zealand scaup

NZ Scaup. Photo courtesy of Steve Attwood.

If you’re looking for a ‘rubber duckie’ in the wild, the New Zealand scaup (Aythya novaeseelandiae) – papango in Māori – is about as close as you’re likely to get. They may not be yellow but with...Read More »

Weed Watch - Nodding thistle

Nodding thistle

Nodding thistle (Carduus nutans) is one of the most competitive thistle species causing problems in New Zealand pastures. It is common throughout New Zealand and is especially abundant in pastures, crop plantings, along roadsides and in wasteland areas in summer.


The species gets...Read More »

Canal dredging underway


Dredging along the breakwater.

Maintenance dredging of the Halswell Canal from Neills Road to the river mouth is expected to improve drainage and flood capacity in the area, at the same time creating a sediment trap that will ultimately improve water quality of Te...Read More »

Concern for wai kōura

Channell Thoms (Ngāti Kurī) hopes her tau kōura will catch some freshwater crayfish.

Most of us are familiar with the marine species of kōura (crayfish), but have you ever seen a wai kōura (freshwater crayfish)? Wai kōura were recognized as taonga species for Ngāi...Read More »

Science Hui

The Whakaora Te Waihora Science Hui will be held at the Lincoln Event Centre, Meijer Drive, Lincoln, 9am to 1.30pm on Thursday, 6 November.


Whakaora Te Waihora is a cultural and ecological restoration programme for Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere, led by Ngāi Tahu and Environment Canterbury. As part of this programme,...Read More »

Bird Watch - White-faced heron

The white-faced heron. Photo courtesy Steve Attwood, Christchurch.

These white-faced herons were photographed at Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere by Christchurch photographer Steve Attwood. Steve is a regular visitor to the lake and has a keen interest in the birds that make the lake environment home.

Self-introduced...Read More »

Introducing Scabweed

Scabweed at Kaitorete Spit. Photo Courtesy Steve Attwood, Christchurch.

Scabweed, a member of the Raoulia genus, mirrors the behaviour of alpine plants as it stretches in greyish-green mats across the dry dune coastal landscape of Kaitorete Spit near Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere. Its low-growing mat...Read More »

Te Waihora - A sleeping giant

Peter Langlands looking for bittern – Wild Capture image library .

Environmental researcher, ornithologist, ecologist and photographer Peter Langlands identifies strongly with Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere. He considers it a sleeping giant, a rich, understated environment and “an incredibly valuable resource.”


It’s a place he’s known...Read More »

Official opening for bush restoration


The Tai Tapu Bush boardwalk leads through new restoration palnting.

The Tai Tapu Bush restoration area and a new footbridge at Rhodes Park in Tai Tapu will be officially opened on Sunday 28 September.


Over 5,000 native seedlings were planted by volunteers at Rhodes Park...Read More »

Farm environment plan template for Te Waihora catchment approved



Environment Canterbury has announced its approval of the second farm environment plan template under the proposed Land & Water Regional Plan.


The template is an adaptation of the Irrigation New Zealand template (see and was developed for use in the Whakaora Te Waihora programme area.  Whakaora Te Waihora...Read More »

Bird Watch - Australian crested grebe

The Australian crested grebe. Photo copyright Steve Attwood, Christchurch.

In the mid-1980s a small number of Australian crested grebe began to appear on Te Roto o Wairewa/Lake Forsyth in autumn-winter. This flock has increased in every subsequent year to the point where 220-300 adult...Read More »

Pōwhiri for new manager

David Murphy.

The sun shone through August’s winter chills on Monday, as manuhiri gathered at the waharoa of Ngāti Moki Marae at Taumutu to welcome the new Whakaora Te Waihora Programme Implementation Manager, David Murphy to Christchurch and to his new role.

Project Manager, Ngāi...Read More »

Canterbury Plant-Out

An invitation – click to view full size.

Registrations are now open for the 2014 Canterbury Plantout – two fun-filled days organised by Te Ara Kākāriki and its partners – including Whakaora Te Waihora.

The two days are designed to encourage locals to plant native...Read More »

Te Waihora – Another perspective

Kawaupaka (Little shag) nesting opposite the Hart’s Creek bird hide. Photo copyright Steve Attwood.

Christchurch-based Steve Attwood is a committed “greenie” and conservationist who passionately believes we have to do more to protect this great planet of ours and all its natural environments and species.

He...Read More »

Weed Watch - Purple loosestrife


Purple loosestrife

Purple loosestrife was previously sold as a garden plant but it is has been declared an unwanted organism in New Zealand by the Biosecurity Act 1993 and consequently is banned from sale, propagation or division.


Characterised by its pretty, tall, purple-pink flower spires,...Read More »

Bird Watch - Banded dotterel


The banded dotterel.

The protected banded dotterel is the most numerous of the dotterel species and the smallest member of the plover family in New Zealand. It is most common in inland Canterbury and in the Mackenzie Basin.Known as a fast mover, it darts...Read More »

Kōhatu celebrates planting achievements

Celebrating a milestone.

A large kōhatu (stone) acknowledging the significant joint venture between Environment Canterbury and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu has been installed on Department of Conservation land beside Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere.Located within the takiwā of Te Rūnanga o Koukourārata, the kōhatu also...Read More »

Enhanced water monitoring for Te Waihora

A similar water monitoring system on Lake Waikaremoana in the North Island.

In the months ahead, a new water monitoring system in Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere is expected to improve overall management of the lake.

Tim Davie, Surface Water Resources and Ecosystems Manager, Environment Canterbury and...Read More »

Understanding the lake opening process

An aerial view showing the lake opening. Photos supplied by Environment Canterbury.

Have you ever wondered how the decision is made to open the lake to the sea? Leigh Griffiths, Environment Canterbury Senior Engineering Advisor, has provided some information about how the decisions are...Read More »

Getting to know your lizards

The common skink

There are two types of lizard in New Zealand – skinks and geckos. It’s not certain how many species of skink and gecko there are in New Zealand because many of them are what we call ‘cryptic’ species, where lizards look...Read More »

Introducing the Kaitorete Woolly Head

Craspedia ‘Kaitorete’

If you’ve never come across the Kaitorete Woolly Head – Craspedia ‘Kaitorete’ – it’s hard to imagine what this rare and endangered plant might look like. As it turns out, it’s a nondescript specimen – low-growing and grey with soft, velvety leaves...Read More »

Halswell Drainage Scheme moves forward

Schaeffers Drain, Court Rd, Tai Tapu – well positioned plants, high up on the bank, shade the drain to reduce weed growth.


Around twenty-five kilometres of drains have been re-battered within the Halswell Catchment and Whakaora Te Waihora engineering workstream leader, Dan Harrison is...Read More »

Bird Watch - Caspian Tern

Caspian tern. Photo courtesy Steve Attwood

The Caspian tern (Sterna caspia) – Taranui in Māori – is easily disturbed by people, dogs and off-road vehicles, so Christchurch photographer Steve Attwood, who took this photograph, spent a long time, patiently slithering across the muddy lake...Read More »

The importance of ecosourcing

Eco-sourcing native plants for the Whakaora Te Waihora restoration planting programme is important to Ngāi Tahu and Environment Canterbury not only from an eco-cultural values perspective, but in showing leadership in the use and planting of appropriate plant species.


Almost all of the native species being planted around Te Waihora/Lake...Read More »

Bird Watch - Royal spoonbill

At first glance, the Royal Spoonbill (Platalea regia,) or Kotuku ngutu papa to Māori, is an odd bird – large, long-legged and distinctive for its wide, black spoon-shaped bill – like something out of a comic book almost. The size of a white heron, spoonbills are gregarious birds, feeding,...Read More »

Weed Watch - Yellow Flag Iris

Yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacorus), is listed in the 2008 National Pest Plant Accord (NPPA) and is banned from sale, propagation and distribution in New Zealand. The plant is native to Europe, West Asia and parts of North America and was introduced to New Zealand as a garden plant....Read More »

Freshwater mussel monitoring

Sophie Allen (Senior Environmental Advisor, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu) kitted out in a snorkel and mask for kākahi survey work.

An unusual team from Ngāi Tahu might be spotted around Te Waihora over the next few months peering into streams wearing masks, snorkels...Read More »

The endangered Katipō

The Kaitpō. Photo Copyright Steve Attwood 2014.

Kaitorete Spit is the 25km-long barrier that separates Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere from the ocean. This windblown, largely uninhabited finger of land is home to a surprising number of rare and unusual species. One of those is the...Read More »

Getting to know Ahuriri Lagoon

The Ahuriri Lagoon area in flood in 2013.

Ahuriri, or Ahuriri Lagoon, is a significant mahinga kai resource located on the Huritini/Halswell River between Taitapu and Motukarara. This lagoon was an important influence in the location of the Ngāti Koraha pā (village) complex located...Read More »

Staff plant-out day

Around sixty volunteers gathered at Ahuriri Lagoon in late May for the first Whakaora Te Waihora staff plant-out for Ngāi Tahu, Environment Canterbury, Department of Conservation and Te Ara Kākāriki staff.

The plant-out was just one part of the greater Whakaora Te Waihora restoration planting programme that aims to restore...Read More »

Pātiki monitoring on Te Waihora

Ko ngā hau ki ētahi wāhi, ko ngā kai ki Orariki  – No matter which way the wind blows you will always eat at the pā of Orariki, Taumutu

Te Waihora was once famous for its abundant mahinga kai – particularly pātiki – but how is the flounder fishing now?

In...Read More »

Weed Watch - Reed canary grass

Reed canary grass

Reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea), is a tall perennial grass that grows to around two metres in height. Its leaf blades are flat and often harsh on both sides; and it has long, creeping rhizomes. Spreading flower/seed panicles rise from hairless...Read More »

Getting to know Kaitorete Spit

Kaitorete Spit is a long finger of land which extends along the east coast of Canterbury. It runs south-west from Banks Peninsula for 25 kilometres and separates the shallow waters of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere from the Pacific Ocean.

Kaitorete Spit is actually a low-lying barrier, with the tiny settlement of...Read More »

Pīngao – A Ngāi Tahu taonga

Pīngao, the golden sand sedge (Ficinia spiralis), is an indigenous species once common on sand dunes around New Zealand. The stout, grass-like plant (30-90cm tall) declined dramatically after European settlement and distribution is now patchy. The largest remaining area of pīngao in New Zealand is along Kaitorete Spit, the...Read More »

Weed Watch – Beggars’ ticks

Beggars’ ticks (Bidens frondosa) is an upright annual that is usually about 20 to 60 centimeters tall – although it has been known to reach 1.8 meters at times. It usually sports reddish stems that look similar to the garden dahlia, with pretty yellow-orange, daisy-like flowers from November through...Read More »

Joint consent a positive step for Te Waihora

joint consent1

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and Environment Canterbury were recently granted a suite of new resource consents for the management of lake openings/levels and some small scale earthworks to aid fish migration. Thought to be among the first of their kind in New Zealand to be held jointly by a...Read More »

An introduction to mahinga kai


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...Read More »

Willow control programme underway

willow control 11

A large expanse of willow invading raupo bedsTe Waihora is a wetland ecosystem with significant natural and cultural values, yet invasive willows are now present within nearly one third of the lakeshore freshwater wetlands. Grey willow (Salix cinerea) in particular, is a challenge on the west side of the lake,...Read More »

Weed Watch – Grey Willow

Grey willow catkin/ flower - male

Grey willow (Salix cinerea) belongs to the Salicaceae (willow) family and is also known as Pussy willow. It is one of the willow species creating the greatest challenges to biodiversity. Its impacts include the ‘crowding out’ of indigenous plants, disruption to natural waterway functions through blockage and the uptake of...Read More »

Mahinga kai monitoring

mahinga kai

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and the Te Waihora Management Board are ramping up mahinga kai monitoring in Te Waihora/ Lake Ellesmere through the Whakaora Te Waihora programme. The monitoring aims to collect more information about mahinga kai, such as tuna and pātiki, to support Ngāi Tahu decision-making and management...Read More »

Planting programme moves forward


After eighteen months on the job, members of the Whakaora Te Waihora planting team are enthusiastic about progress to date – and about planting plans for the year ahead. The team has planted in excess of 140,000 plants over 70 key sites around focus catchments since they first started restoration...Read More »

Planting progress on track


One year into the Whakaora Te Waihora planting programme within the Kaituna, Huritini/Halswell and Waikekewai catchments, Workstream Team Leader Andy Spanton is very happy with progress.

“We’ve attained our first year goals to kick off the Whakaora Te Waihora Joint Cultural and Ecological Restoration Plan and the good thing about...Read More »

Bird count identifies Te Waihora bird population trends


In February 2013, over 55,000 wetland birds from around 40 different species were recorded at Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere.

The count, which organisers hope will become an annual event, was a collaborative venture between volunteers and staff of the Ornithological Society of NZ (OSNZ), Waihora Ellesmere Trust (WET), Department of Conservation (DOC),...Read More »