Te Hakapupu (Pleasant River Catchment) restoration project

 

The project

Otago Regional Council is partnering with Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki to restore and enhance the mauri and health of this important East Otago river system. For Kāi Tahu, the river was an important kāika mahika kai (food gathering settlement) where tuna (eels), pātiki (flounders) and īnaka (whitebait) were abundant. Today’s diverse community, whose own history, connection, and livelihood are tied to this catchment, are important collaborators in the success of this project.

Together, there is a journey to create a catchment restoration management plan to inspire us to sustain the awa. The plan aims to enhance the wider ecosystem, improve water quality by reducing the amount of sediment and nutrient input to the rivers and estuary, and use the best of Kāi Tahu mātauraka (knowledge) and modern science to sustain our efforts.

 

Te Hakapupu Pleasant River Catchment area

 

About the work

The catchment restoration management plan will be a living document with long-term goals. Some of the work we have planned to gather information to support decision-making is:

  • Establishing environmental baselines and developing a water quality monitoring framework that could be supported through community science
  • Identifying sites where the most sediment and/or nutrients are getting into the river and working with landowners to find ways to reduce the effects on water quality. One of the ways to reduce sediment and nutrient movement is to fence off stream edges and plant native trees to stabilise banks
  • Identifying barriers to fish movement and making sure they protect our native fish species
  • Working with landowners to develop sediment management plans to help reduce sediment and nutrient input into the water

Some work throughout the project will require the services of ORC experts, and some, the hardworking members of the community, including collaborating with the East Otago Catchment Group and local landowners. Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki, for instance, has a nursery and will be supplying some of the plants for this project.

 

Planning for the future

This four-year work programme will focus on improvements to water quality, safe fish passage, and a catchment restoration management plan co-developed with the rūnaka that the community will adopt as its own, but it will also look to better protect biodiversity and natural water resources in the area.

Working side by side with local rūnaka, we want to find appropriate ways to collaborate with community and industry in the catchment identifying work needing to be done while reflecting community aspirations.

This may include:

  • Hearing the stories of those who identify strongly with the area, the estuary, or the river
  • Creating and attending events to help build a community vision for this project
  • Providing and listening to information

Over the next year, we will also gather baseline data on the catchment to better understand sediment and nutrient movement, fish habitat and water quality issues. This will help guide activities to improve water quality.

 

Te Hakapupu Catchment map

 

Project timeline

December 2021–July 2022

Project formally announced
Project design under development
Partnership model developed with Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki
Developing detailed project management plan
Partnership group established

16 October 2022

Meet and greet with the project team at Familton's Farm, end of Patterson Road, Palmerston,  3pm-6pm

October–December 2022

Input on project delivery sought from communities of Te Hakapupu
Conversations begin with rūnaka and community, including landowners, about their aspirations and ideas — these begin shaping the catchment restoration management plan
Work begins to better define the environmental problems and how they can best be remedied, including collecting environmental baseline data and initial assessment of sediment movement in the catchment

January–March 2023

Begin work with landowners to protect riverbanks through planting and fencing
Planting and fencing begin
Fish passage barrier assessments begin

June 2023

Environmental baseline data established
Water quality monitoring framework begins (ongoing)

December 2023 

Work with rūnaka and community to monitor water quality and other environmental health indicators (ongoing)

March 2024

Catchment Management Plan drafted

April 2025

Catchment Management Plan (living document) finalised
Landowner agreements complete
Planting and fencing complete
Fish passage barrier mitigations complete

June 2025

Project close

 

Te Hakapupu Pleasant River Catchment area

 

What can you do on the ground to help?

There are many ways you can protect precious waterways.

Planting, controlling pests and weeds or creating habitat will enhance biodiversity and attract more native animals (birds, lizards, and invertebrates) to your area, improving their chances of survival.

  • Take care when applying fertilisers and pesticides
  • Plant trees on hills and near streams to reduce land run-off
  • Manage stock more efficiently by fencing off streams and waterways to reduce direct water contamination
  • Avoid overusing water in dry seasons
  • Retire marginal land or change land uses (e.g., pasture to forest)
  • Careful planning of subdivisions and urban growth for minimal impact on neighbouring waterways
  • Continued removal and control of pests and invasive species including weeds and pest plants

 

Funding

The Te Hakapupu (Pleasant River Catchment) Restoration Project is funded by the Ministry for the Environment’s Essential Freshwater Fund through the Government’s Jobs for Nature programme to create jobs while enhancing nature. Funding of $4 million has been provided to support this $5 million restoration project.

The project will provide employment for up to 40 people, including fencing, planting, and plant maintenance in the local community, alongside project delivery and evaluation. Funding will also cover the resources for the team to achieve on-the-ground objectives.

 

Contact

Otago Regional Council Project Delivery Specialist – Jobs for Nature

Melanie White
Email melanie.white@orc.govt.nz
Tel 027 357 2568

Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki Representative

Katharina Ruckstuhl
Email katharina.ruckstuhl@otago.ac.nz

East Otago Catchment Group

Steph Scott
Email eocatchmentgroup@gmail.com
T
el 027 438 7875

 

Further information

Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki

Jobs for Nature

Otago Water Plan

ORC’s monitoring of estuaries

Health of Otago's estuaries

 

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