Our braided rivers

The habitats provided by braided river systems are becoming increasingly vulnerable as we place pressures on them for water use, such as irrigation and hydro schemes and recreation. They also face pressures from increased pests, weeds and pollution.

Protecting braided rivers

The Canterbury Water Management Strategy aims to halt the decline through its targets and goals with its focus on the integration of water and land management including the protection of indigenous biodiversity and water quality.

This is also integrated with the practice of kaitiakitanga or guardianship by Ngāi Tahu which applies to the ecological health of all waterways.

Braided rivers, such as the Waimakariri and Rakaia rivers, form a large part of the Canterbury landscape and are internationally rare river ecosystems.

They're characterised by their multiple, shifting channels, varying flows and shingle substrate. The rivers are an abundant supply of food and support many species that can't be found anywhere else.

Braided rivers provide feeding and nesting for twenty six species of native birds, with the majority classified as threatened and facing increased pressures as the natural character of these dynamic systems degrades.

Waimakariri River
Rangitata river from Forest Ck Bluffs
Waitaki river

Ko te Whakahaumanu o te Rakitata Awa | The Rakitata Revival Strategy

Protecting the mauri (life force) of the Rakitata (Rangitata) River

The Rakitata (Rangitata) River was once an area of incredible abundance, home to unique braided river plants and animals, habitats and ecosystems. Today, the mauri (life force) of the awa has declined due to human activities that have caused losses in water quality and biodiversity.

These include changes in land use, taking water for irrigation, pollution, encroaching on the river’s natural channels, and the presence of invasive plants and pest animals.

Mauri is an essential element of the spiritual relationship of Kāi Tahu with the awa, embodying the physical and spiritual elements that make up the lifeforce of all things. All elements of the natural environment possess a life force, and all forms of life are connected.

All awa carry their own mauri and have their own mana or status.

Vision and mission

Tō tātou tūruapō, our vision
Together we value, protect and restore the mauri of the Rakitata ki uta ki tai (from source to sea).

Tō tātou kaupapa, our mission
We are restoring healthy braided river ecosystems where native taoka (treasured species) are abundant and healthy, and people and communities can connect and thrive.

About the project

This project to restore the mauri of the Rakitata River began as a partnership between mana whenua and DOC through their national Ngā Awa river restoration programme.

It now includes:

  • Te Rūnaka o Arowhenua
  • Environment Canterbury - Kaunihera Taiao ki Waitaha
  • Toitū te Whenua - Land Information New Zealand
  • The Department of Conservation - Te Papa Atawhai
  • Central South Island Fish & Game
  • Timaru District Council - Te Kaunihera ā-Rohe o Te Tihi Manu
  • Ashburton District Council

Each of the partners has a current role in aspects of managing land use, the landscape, water, weed and pest control, and biodiversity and these responsibilities often overlap.

We all respect and value the living status of the awa to which our communities are deeply connected.

By working together to restore and protect the awa we will enhance the health and wellbeing of our community now and for generations to come.

Rangitata river
Rangitata river winding its way