Media release

Pilot study will model Nature-based Solutions in Te Hakapupu / Pleasant River

Friday 19 April 2024

ORC has been partnering with Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki to enhance the mauri (life force) and health of the Te Hakapupu / Pleasant River system in coastal East Otago via a restoration project called Toitū Te Hakapupu.

Now a pilot study being undertaken in the catchment will look at how Nature-based Solutions could help lessen the effects of flooding, setting the stage for opportunities Otago-wide.

“As a regional council we’re always looking for new and better ways to protect people, livelihoods and infrastructure,” says ORC’s Project Delivery Specialist Melanie White.

“The Toitū Te Hakapupu Restoration project has already built relationships and developed a knowledge base which make the Pleasant River catchment ideal for this study modelling the use of Nature-based Solutions.”

This new project, the Wai i te reporepo, wai i te wao: Nature-based Solutions Study, is one of 21 nationally to be fully funded by the Ministry for the Environment’s (MfE) Essential Freshwater Fund.

It will explore the potential of Nature-based Solutions such as restoring wetlands and planting natives to help manage flooding, clean our water and support biodiversity.

“Nature-based Solutions are practical ways to use nature’s own processes to solve challenges,” Ms White says.

“Practices like restoring wetlands to soak up floodwater and filter pollutants from stormwater run-off, and native planting to reduce erosion and provide habitat for threatened species could reduce the impacts of flooding on people and infrastructure and can be used to compliment other ‘hard’ engineering solutions. Flooding is the most common Civil Defence emergency in Otago, threatening lives and causing damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure. It’s vital that councils like ORC investigate how natural solutions could add to future-proofing our region.”

“They could be a win-win for the community, industry and the environment - and help us play a part in reaching New Zealand’s climate change goals” she says.


Te Hakapupu / Pleasant River as envisioned by Daall-e

A report detailing the types of solutions that could work in the catchment will be drafted this year. Engineering, climate change, water and research experts from Beca and Boffa Miskell are supporting the work, combining local Otago knowledge with international best practice to come up with ideas.

“Once we have assembled a list of ideas, we will test these with mana whenua, industry and land user groups, like forestry, farming and lifestyle block owners in Te Hakapupu / Pleasant River before we finish the Feasibility Study later this year.”

“On completion of the Feasibility Study, we’re planning to test some of its findings more widely with land users around Otago. An Engagement Study, looking at perceived barriers and opportunities around people’s willingness to adopt these ideas, will be completed in 2025.”

“The results will help inform future decision-making and highlight opportunities that could benefit the entire region,” Ms White says. “We invite people all over Otago who might be interested in being involved in the Engagement Study later in the year to get in touch.”

Find out more about Wai i te reporepo, wai i te wao: Nature-based Solutions Study here:
If you want to know more about the Toitū Te Hakapupu / Pleasant River Catchment Restoration Project: