Media release

Manuherekia flow setting report welcomed – ORC

Tuesday 22 August 2023

Delivery of a Manuherekia River report today to ORC Councillors summarises recent hydrology and ecology work which will assist with setting the future minimum flow of the Central Otago river.

ORC’s Chief Executive Richard Saunders welcomed delivery of the report.

“It’s involved an enormous amount of work from both ORC staff and external specialists who’ve all been part of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG). We’d like to thank those people whose expertise has contributed to the process,” he says.

The report to Councillors at today’s Environmental Science and Policy Committee briefing is a key milestone in the development of the new Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP) for the Otago region, Mr Saunders says.


The report was in response to a request made by Councillors two years ago, in August 2021, for “additional science” to further consider the river’s hydrology, habitat modelling and invertebrates, and to provide ecological evidence supporting a recommended minimum flow.

In the August 2021 report, the low flow recommendation ranged from 1200 to 3000 litres per second, while the science recommendation in today’s report is for the river to eventually have a minimum flow of between 2000 and 2500 litres per second based on the ecological and hydrology work completed.

“This report’s an important milestone in the conversation with communities and for the consultation to come on determining the balance of protections needed around the Manuherekia River,” Mr Saunders says.

“The findings in this report will be used to help inform the draft recommendations for the Manuherekia rohe [part of the Clutha Mata- au Freshwater Management Unit] which will then be reported to Council for noting at the end of September, ahead of the community consultation process,” he says.

The report is an important part of ORC’s current development of its proposed LWRP, which will become the cornerstone document for environmental management across Otago, Mr Saunders says.

He notes some of the issues around the Manuherekia are also replicated elsewhere in some of Otago’s other rivers and streams.

Mr Saunders says maintaining the Manuherekia’s long-term health is “key for all parties to consider and we encourage people to have their say during the upcoming round of consultation.”

Mr Saunders notes ORC must operate under the Government’s National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management, which states the first priority is the health and wellbeing of water bodies and respective ecosystems.

Read the Manuherekia Minimum Flow Update report

View the video recording of the Environmental Science and Policy Committee Briefing below.



The NPS – FM 2020 – Objective 2.1

This outlines the objective of the National Policy Statement to ensure that natural and physical resources are managed in a way that prioritises:

(a) First, the health and well-being of waterbodies and freshwater ecosystems

(b) Second, the health needs of people (such as drinking water)

(c) Third, the ability of people and communities to provide for their soil, economic, and cultural well-being, now and in the future.


The Manuherekia Technical Advisory Group

Over its four-year history, the TAG comprised eight members representing stakeholders: Aukaha, Otago Fish and Game, Department of Conservation, Otago Regional Council, Omakau Irrigation company and Otago water users’ group. In total, there were 16 individuals involved on the TAG over the four years.