Wainono Lagoon restoration project makes good progress

Mudfish, eels, weeds and willows have been the recent focus of the team working at Wainono Lagoon on Te Rūnanga o Waihao’s Te Mana O Te Wai Project. The project, funded by the Ministry for the Environment with contributions from Environment Canterbury and the Department of Conservation, is led by the rūnanga and aims to improve the water quality of the lagoon through a range of measures.

The majority of the physical work carried out in the past three to four months has focused on controlling weeds and willow trees that have an impact on the water quality and biodiversity of the lagoon. This has included working with the Department of Conservation to control the weeds on the gravel bar and completing willow control on important wetlands on the lagoon margins. Work has also commenced on properties in Waituna with willow clearance and bank protection work, to reduce erosion into the waterway.

Environment Canterbury reported at the Lower Waitaki South Coastal Canterbury Zone Committee meeting in Waimate in May that $187,000 of the contributing funds have now been spent from a two-year budget of $517,000.

Chris Eccleston, Environment Canterbury Zone Manager for Lower Waitaki South Canterbury Coastal, said that, although the work may not be very visible to the public, it is crucial to the outcomes of the Project.

“Improving water quality in the lagoon is the long-term aim and, to do that, we need to work on soil erosion, both with engineering solutions and in partnership with the local landowners in their farming practices.

“Thanks to well-established relationships between landowners and rūnanga we’re making good progress and looking forward to moving on to the next parts of the Project, which include developing public signage and car parking at Lake Road and the Waihao Box to encourage people to visit and enjoy this valuable lagoon.”

Mudfish population in the Wainono Lagoon

Two new native mudfish populations have been found in small streams that run into the Lagoon and habitat protection and enhancement is being carried out protect these sites. Fish barrier work to help prevent other fish species from predating the mudfish is being undertaken on Buchanan’s Creek by the Working Waters Trust.

Annual eel monitoring was also undertaken by rūnanga and Environment Canterbury biodiversity staff to better understand eel populations as an indicator of overall ecological health in Wainono Lagoon and its catchments.

The recent flood events in April had damaged some existing sediment works to reduce run-off into the lagoon on the Hook River but this was relatively minor and is now being repaired.

Wainono Lagoon Restoration

Rob Carson Isles and Helen Risk from Environment Canterbury surveying eels in the Wainono Lagoon

Mr Eccleston said other challenges included the higher than usual lagoon levels and Environment Canterbury were working with landowners and river engineering to look at how these might be managed in the long-term.

Another upcoming part of the project would look at a proposal to extend covenanted areas on one of the main farms along the lagoon margin and could contribute to the fencing costs of the extended area.

Wainono Lagoon Project

The Wainono Lagoon is a 480-hectare coastal lagoon and wetland of national and international importance for its birdlife and native fish. Its importance derives from the lagoon’s size, diversity of habitats and location in a chain of coastal wetlands. The lagoon and its tributaries are highly significant to Waihao rūnanga as a mahinga kai source and a cultural site.

If you would like to read more about the Wainono Lagoon Project visit our Lower Waitaki South Coastal Canterbury Zone Biodiversity page.