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Plans for restoration of Waiapu catchment

28 Aug 2018

Plans for restoration of Waiapu catchment

Ruatoria Waiapu River Waiomatatini Road

Community and hapu involvement is key to the long-term restoration and protection of the Waiapu catchment.

The 173,400-hectare catchment area has about 35-million tonnes of suspended sediment each year, which is one of the highest rates in the world. Without ongoing treatment, erosion and sedimentation could double by 2050.

Council is involved in two key agreements in its future planning for the catchment, each with a separate work stream. A Memorandum of Understanding between Ministry of Primary Industries, Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou (TRoNP) and Council was signed in 2014 and resulted in a 10-year programme, ‘Restoring the Waiapu.’

This provides a collaborative approach to treat erosion, stop greater physical damage and bring social and economic gains.

A Joint Management Agreement (JMA) between TRoNP and Council was signed in 2015 to develop the Waiapu Catchment Plan – an RMA planning document that forms part of our freshwater plan.

Under the JMA, both entities must establish how to best work together and finalise the Waiapu catchment plan by 2025.

The aim is to scope and progress both ‘restoring the Waiapu’ and the ‘Waiapu catchment plan.’

Decision makers need to consider how to best enable nga hapu, community, landowners and other stakeholder participation in the plan making process.

With applications for the Government’s erosion control fund closing in 2020, phase two of ‘restoring the Waiapu’ has narrowed its scope to focus on healthy whenua (healthy land) and targeting priority sites in the catchment.

An action of the Tairāwhiti Resource Management Plan requires landowners with land overlay 3A to implement a work plans by 2021.

Over decades, heavy forestation has removed protection from the erodible land in the catchment, resulting in a loss of productivity. High sediment has made water less drinkable and fewer places to swim.

A range of restorative actions have been undertaken over the last 50 years, including pole planting to stabilise productive land and the use of timber debris dam structures to restrict silt ending up in waterways.

A focus on planting ‘the right tree in the right place’ is a guiding principle, encompassing exotic forestation, native reversion and pole planting.

A mix of uses means land is still productive however it limits damage when gullies revert to permanent vegetation. This will bring beneficial environmental outcomes for landowners.

Here is our Joint Management Agreement