We are developing a Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP) in partnership with Kāi Tahu whānui, and with feedback from the greater Otago community.

Join the kōrero on the proposed direction of the Plan to care for Otago's lakes, rivers and streams and guide the activities that impact them.

We have a summary of proposed new rules and regulations that we encourage you to look over:

About the area

Under national legislation, regional councils must manage waterways at an appropriate scale for setting freshwater objectives and limits.  

We have set five Freshwater Management Units (FMUs) and divided the Clutha/Mata-Au FMU into five rohe (areas) as it is the largest river in the country, by catchment and volume.  

The Lower Clutha Rohe covers over 4,000 square kilometres. It has the Pomahaka catchment and several other river catchments that feed the Clutha/Mata-au including the Waitahuna, Waiwera, Tuapeka and Waitahuna catchments, and smaller tributaries.  

The rohe also includes Lake Tuakitoto, a small shallow lake with an adjoining wetland of a type now rare in Otago.  

The Clutha/Mata-au River is important in Kāi Tahu traditions and history, and mana whenua have an ongoing relationship with wāhi tupuna (landscapes and places that embody the relationship of mana whenua and their culture and traditions) and mahika kai (the gathering of foods and other resources, the places where they are gathered, and the practices used to gather them) values. The river and its tributaries supported seasonal settlements and plentiful mahika kai. The Pomahaka River was important for people settled in the Catlins and Tautuku areas, and the coastal area at the mouth of the Mata-au/Clutha River offered a bounty of mahika kai, including eeling and harvest of other freshwater fish in lagoons and up the river.  

Lower Clutha includes the townships of Lawrence, Tapanui, Clinton and Balclutha. The Otago goldrush began in Gabriel’s Gully near Lawrence, and the rohe still contains reminders of its mining past. The gold rush, the history of agriculture, and coal mining in Kaitangata provide the area with many heritage sites.  

Economic profile and snapshot

As of 2018, the Lower Clutha Rohe had approximately 12,000 residents (5% of the population in Otago and around three people/km2). This was an increase of around 200 people (or 1%) from 11,800 residents in 2006. The growth rate in the Lower Clutha Rohe is lower than that of the Otago region (+16%). Just under half of the residents live rurally, around a third live in Balclutha, and the rest of the population (approximately 20%) lives in four service centres of Tapanui, Kaitangata, Benhar-Stirling and Lawrence. 

The local economy in the Lower Clutha Rohe relies heavily on water resources for primary production and primary goods processing. In 2020, the largest employment industries were primary and associated food manufacturing industries, which together provided more than half of all jobs in the rohe. Water is used to grow and dispose of food, and to dispose of the associated waste. Tourism-related industries are relatively small compared to other parts of Otago. They consist of retail trade (6% of all jobs), accommodation and food services (4%), and arts and recreation services (0.4%). 

It is important to understand Māori history and the Māori economy when developing policy and assessing its impact. Pre-European Māori history shapes today’s Aotearoa, and the Māori economy is integral to the national economic system. ORC is partnering with Aukaha and Te Ao Marama to develop an overview of Kāi Tahu history and economy.

Science profile

Publications and reports

​Proposed new rules and regulations for the Lower Clutha Rohe


This summary provides an overview of the provisions relating to the Lower Clutha Rohe (area). This includes environmental outcomes, target attribute states and area-specific rules and limits. The rules and limits are in addition to those in the region-wide rules covered in the other summaries.

If you are unsure of any particular terms, there is a ​​glossary of terms.

Recent content updates:

  • 26 September 2023:
    • Added proposed environmental flows, level and take limits for lakes, rivers and aquifers and added information regarding whether further allocation of water is available
  • 25 September 2023:
    • Added Lower Clutha Rohe boundary map
  • 24 September 2023:
    • Added timeframe for achieving the environmental outcomes for target attribute states
    • Added information regarding 'matters of control' in table 2



Map of the Lower Clutha Rohe


Want to know more?

Contact your rohe's Catchment Advisor for advice and assistance on sustainable land management practices that protect Otago’s waterways.

Sign up to our monthly newsletter On Stream for regular updates

Email customerservices@orc.govt.nz

Tel 0800 474 082

Page last updated 8 July 2024.