Funding boost for Waimakariri environmental projects

Three innovative projects and exciting new environmental awards will be supported at the recommendation of the Waimakariri Water Zone Committee.

The funding comes from our $50,000 allocation for water zone committees to recommend support for local projects that help meet the Canterbury Water Management Strategy targets.

The selected initiatives meet one or more goals in the zone committee’s Action Plan for 2021-24:

  • increasing indigenous biodiversity
  • improving the monitoring of groundwater and surface water
  • promoting the natural braided character and increased flow of the Ashley River/Rakahuri
  • protecting and enhancing recreation
  • improving mahinga kai

"It was very pleasing to see a range of different projects applying to the fund," said Carolyne Latham, Chair of the Waimakariri Water Zone Committee. "They will all make a great contribution to achieving our goals across the district.

"In fact, the zone committee itself is a recipient this year through its Biodiversity Working Group. We want to recognise those in our community who undertake, champion, or inspire environmental initiatives within our zone. We will soon be seeking applications and nominations for the inaugural Waimakariri Zone Committee Environmental Awards."

Find out more about the projects we're supporting this year

Nesting Area Weed Clearing - Ashley Rakahuri Rivercare Group

Amount Granted: $5,000

This project will help clear weeds from braided river bird nesting areas in the Ashley River/Rakahuri.

Braided river birds nest on islands, which need to be weed-free and high enough to withstand moderate floods for successful breeding. They also need good water flow around them to deter predators.

Sadly, during the last nesting season, the Ashley Rakahuri Rivercare Group recorded that only 17 black-fronted terns successfully fledged from 162 nests. This is a very poor success rate, and the group has identified that floods and predators were the main causes.

To help the birds improve their breeding success, 14.6ha of weed clearing is planned on ten separate islands. With the funds from this grant, a local contractor will be enlisted to carry out the work, using a 4WD tractor equipped with a purpose-designed machine and a subsurface blade to tackle the weeds.

The group hopes to complete this work by early winter ready for the next breeding season.

Saltwater Creek Wetland Restoration, Daiken New Zealand - Waimakariri Biodiversity Trust

Amount Granted: $15,600

This long-term project aims to enhance the headwaters of Saltwater Creek in Sefton.

Restoration of a wetland at the headwaters of this creek will have downstream benefits for the whole waterway, from source to sea. It will increase indigenous biodiversity in the district, as well as have hydrological and ecological benefits.

The wetland restoration is a collaboration between the Waimakariri Biodiversity Trust and Daiken New Zealand, the operators of the farm where the former wetland is situated.

At the request of Daiken, the Waimakariri Biodiversity Trust has developed a staged project to look at options for biodiversity restoration in this area.

This funding will allow the planning and investigation stages of the project to get underway. It will look at baseline hydrology and ecology and develop options for future work.

Rūnanga, local groups, and individuals will all be consulted to build up a picture of water flows and instream values in the area. Depending on the outcomes of the first stages, later actions may include stream enhancement and water level management as well as native vegetation planting and improvement of native fish habitats.

Water Quality Gap Analysis - Waimakariri Landcare Trust

Amount Granted: $26,400

This project is about building a more complete understanding of water quality in the Waimakariri district.

The Waimakariri Landcare Trust will first do a stocktake of all the monitoring efforts already underway by various stakeholders. They will then look for any gaps in the areas being tested and the timing of monitoring and make recommendations about what else needs to be done.

The Trust also wants to engage local people with water monitoring efforts in the district, strengthening connections with the health of their freshwater. They hope to empower everyone with an interest in water quality to take part in monitoring progress.

Some of the funding will be used to hire a groundwater nitrate sensor for a short period. In conjunction with the zone committee, local, and regional council, they will offer drop-in water testing days for private well owners. This will determine whether the sensor would be a worthwhile tool to purchase for regular ongoing nitrates testing.

This project aims to:

  • Achieve a collective understanding of the water monitoring that is already happening to avoid any duplication of efforts between stakeholders.
  • Provide a gap analysis to make recommendations for areas that need increased monitoring.
  • Provide an understanding of data sharing, including data format and standards that need to be met for different outcomes.
  • Suggest which data collection can be gathered through citizen science and what needs to be undertaken to a national standard to ensure usability and reliability.

The Trust believes it is a first step to finding a baseline for water monitoring in the region and identifying areas for improvement. This will become increasingly important for measuring progress towards meeting the incoming freshwater regulations.

Environmental Awards - Waimakariri Biodiversity Working Group

Amount Granted: $3,000

The new environmental awards will highlight and celebrate youth, individuals, groups, organisations and businesses contributing to better environmental outcomes within the Waimakariri water zone.

This is a great opportunity to nominate yourself or someone you think is an environmental champion.

There will be three categories of awards:

  • Group, Organisation or Business: volunteer groups, commercial companies, NGOs, whether formal or informal.
  • Individual: An individual, landowner, or member of an organisation.
  • Youth: An individual or group, 18 years old or under. May also be eligible for categories 1 and 2.

All projects must align with at least one of the Water Zone Committee’s Action Plan goals.

The awards will be run in conjunction with Waimakariri District Council’s annual Community Awards in September. A panel with a broad range of expertise will assess each application and decide on the winners.

The awards are a chance for the Water Zone Committee to commend individuals, groups and organisations that undertake, champion, or inspire environmental protection, conservation, or restoration, within the zone.

Entries will open in early July and close mid-August 2023. For more information contact Carolyne Latham at

Where to from here?

The Water Zone Committee will monitor the progress of these projects through regular updates and reports of outcomes achieved.

"The zone committee is expecting to have a similar level of funding available for the 2023/24 financial year," said Carolyne. "We encourage potential applicants to contact us at any time if they have a project that needs a helping hand and aligns with one or more of our Action Plan goals."