Another successful year for Whakaora Te Waihora restoration programme

The Co-Governors of Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere (Environment Canterbury, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Selwyn District Council, Christchurch City Council and the Department of Conservation) reported the achievements of the last year for the Whakaora Te Waihora restoration programme, building on the first seven years of Co-Governance.

Co-Chairs Lisa Tumahai (Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu) and Steve Lowndes (Environment Canterbury) said that in 2018/19 the programme had further delivered on its vision of restoring and rejuvenating the mauri and ecosystem health of Te Waihora and its catchment.

“We acknowledge the effort and commitment of many people, and the extremely effective partnership between the organisations,” the Co-Chairs said. “This now includes the Department of Conservation, Te Papa Atawhai – we welcome the special skills, knowledge and relationships DOC brings to the table and to the lake.”

Read the full summary report and reports from previous year.

Key Whakaora Te Waihora achievements for the last year

  • The Whakaora Te Ahuriri project, which is creating a constructed wetland, successfully completed its second year, with engineering and earthworks almost complete. For the summary report for 2018/2019, and regular drone footage showing progress, go to https://tewaihora.org/whakaora-te-ahuriri/.
  • The Weed Strike Force is controlling willows and weeds on the lake shore and is delivered by the Department of Conservation. A permanent crew was employed, a three-year work plan was finalised, and all willow and weed control targets for 2018/2019 were met with willows and weeds controlled over 794.5 hectares.
  • In partnership with Te Taumutu Rūnanga, the riparian margin along Te Waikekewai / Waikekewai Stream between Ngāti Moki Marae and Te Repo Orariki (Taumutu Wetlands) was restored.
  • While developing trial establishment of macrophyte beds and artificial habitat delivered by NIWA, a population of kōrepo (Ruppia megacarpa) was discovered in North Canterbury. This macrophyte/water plant had been lost from Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere, and because it is a more robust species it should have an increased chance of re-establishing in the lake.
  • The Kids Discovery Plant-out, delivered by Te Ara Kākāriki and Enviroschools, continued to host successful events with schools where students planted trees and learned about the environment.

“We applaud all this good work,” the Co-Chairs concluded. “There is still much to do and we are very well positioned to do it.”

Background – Te Waihora

As well as being an internationally significant wetland, Te Waihora has immense significance for Ngāi Tahu as a tribal taonga, representing a major mahinga kai and an important source of mana. In Ngāi Tahu history, it was Rākaihautū and his son Rokohuia who first landed the Uruao waka on the South Island/Te Waipounamu, many centuries ago.

Rākaihautū travelled down the island beating the land with his kō and leaving the inland lakes. The original name for the lake is Te Kete Ika o Rākaihautū/The Fish Basket of Rākaihautū, in reference to the lake being a considerable tribal resource.

Te Waihora is a mahinga kai of great importance to Ngāi Tahu and participation in food and resource gathering on the lake is as important now as it was for early Māori.

A commitment to customary use implies sustainable use and the need to manage, protect and restore species, habitats and ecosystems.

Ngāi Tahu now focuses its relationship on the protection and enhancement of threatened species to the point where they can once again be used by Ngāi Tahu whānau.