The Minister for the Environment (MfE), Hon Dr Nick Smith
was given an update on a project to identify and restore
spawning habitats in the Te Arai River, when he visited the
Gisborne region yesterday.
Last year Council received funding from the Ministry to
undertake a community-based pilot project within the Lower
Waipaoa and Te Arai catchment areas to identify, protect and
enhance inanga (whitebait) spawning sites.
The minister visited the river at a Waingake Road property
to meet with representatives of the project from Gisborne
District Council, the Tairawhiti Environment Centre and
The project has been underway since December 2014.
“It aims to develop the capacity within local community
and iwi groups to identify potential fish spawning areas and
to undertake restoration of these areas,” says
environmental and regulatory services group manager Kevin
“Inanga are an important customary and recreational food
source for people.
“They’re also an important food source for other
species, identifying and enhancing their habitat could
result in positive cultural, social and ecological outcomes
for the area.
“The pilot will help us develop a programme for the rest
of our region.”
Earlier this year scientific advisor and native fishery
expert, Hans Rook gave a public talk on restoring habitats
for native fish and how this could be achieved in
Rook has been working with the project team to map spawning
sites in the catchment, including the Te Arai and Maraetaha
“We’ve learned inanga lay their eggs at a fairly high
tide in grassy areas around where the salt water meets the
freshwater,” says Mr Strongman.
“A spawning site may look like milk has been dropped along
Preferred grasses are known to be tall fescue (Festuca
arundinacea) and creeping bent (Agrostis stolonifera).
Protecting these sites through fencing, vegetation
management and excluding stock can contribute to an improved
“Council can help to regulate activities around spawning
sites like those proposed in the regional Freshwater Plan
that will come into effect in October.”
More work with Rongowhakaata, Ngai Tamanuhiri and the
landowners will happen over the next few months with the
final report to MfE due in December. Read more >>
Work carried out to investigate structural requirements for
the river training wall has turned up some disappointment
for the Tairāwhiti Navigations project.
“Underwater investigations on the training wall has
confirmed it could not support a walkway in its current
state,” says chief executive Judy Campbell.
A walkway along the training wall from Lone Star to the
slipway was a highlight feature of the Navigations project
within the inner harbour precinct.
Diving teams have been surveying the training wall since
June, to assist Council in planning the construction costs.
“The engineer’s report identified load bearing issues in
some areas of the wall. The cost to repair it up to the
required standard exceeds the current project budget,”
says Ms Campbell.
“It’s disappointing but it means we can put more energy
into the other infrastructure in the inner harbour, slipway,
bridges, and the story-telling elements.”
“We first need to ensure this is how Council wants us to
proceed before going back to Eastland Community Trust to get
permission to vary the funding contract.”
ECT awarded $5m grant funding in 2014 for the development of
the river training wall walkway.
The project plans to enhance local landmarks with upgraded
infrastructure and design features, and create a heritage
“The stories of our founding navigators like Kiwa, Paoa
and Cook are unique to our district. These stories are the
main attraction of the sites within this part of the
Research is underway, working with tangata whenua and
historical data to gather the stories that could be told
about early Māori and European navigators.
“We’re exploring ways we can present these stories not
just through art, but technology installations and online
The construction elements are still being scoped for a
clip-on walkway for the railway bridge and a footbridge over
the Turanganui River connecting the slipway to the Waikanae
“There will still be access to the slipway via a new
Turanganui Bridge and it will still be just as impressive in
design as what we had envisaged for the training wall.”
An inner harbour upgrade is also part of Navigations with
the first stakeholder meeting held last week to get feedback
on design requirements for upgrading the street scape,
parking and amenities. Auckland urban design company LandLab
will lead this design process.
The project encompasses the restoration of Titirangi, Kaiti
Hill, as an important part of the heritage trail. Pathways
and storytelling will be created to connect with the inner
“We will look at options for improving visibility and
connectivity to the Cook Landing site, which is also a
nationally significant monument.”
The infrastructure, stories and interpretations in the inner
harbour and Titirangi are the first stage of the project
which is intended to extend to other historically important
sites in Tairāwhiti. Read more >>