Braided River Revival/Whakahaumanu Ngā Awa ā Pākihi
Braided River Revival / Whakahaumanu Ngā Awa ā Pākihi (BRR) signals a shift from river management focused solely on flood protection, to one that also facilitates collaborative efforts to protect and enhance the range of values that make our braided rivers unique and important ecosystems.
Balancing flood protection with environmental enhancement is not new but we now have a rare transformational opportunity to support the unique character of braided rivers ki uta ki tai by taking a holistic approach to how we manage them, putting the health and mauri of braided rivers at the forefront of all the work we do in rivers.
Canterbury’s braided rivers are iconic and ecologically critical corridors that have deteriorated over time. Losses in water quality and biodiversity have resulted from human-induced pressures including encroachment, land use change, water abstraction, climate change, invasive plants and animals, and pollution.
Ki uta ki tai is the concept of mountains to the sea – a whole-systems approach to the sustainable management of water rather than a linear channel. It refers to the source of the river, high in the mountain, all the way down to where it enters the sea.
Mauri embodies the physical and spiritual elements that make up the life force of all things. To revive the mauri of braided rivers is to revive the mana (status, strength, pride, and identity) of them.
Managing rivers with consideration for these two concepts recognises the interconnections between water, land and coast, and everything that exists within the river corridor from source to sea, including the way we connect with them and the services they provide to us.
BRR recognises that we all have a part to play in securing the health and wellbeing of braided rivers – that it is a shared responsibility.
We aim to facilitate alignment and partnerships resulting in greater transparency, sharing of information and resources with aligned priorities. This will help unlock future collaborative funding opportunities to enable more operational activities.
By aligning all our work across rivers, we aim to both enhance the natural values of braided rivers, and ensure communities remain safe from flooding. We are also drafting a 100-year braided river revival strategy that will provide regional visions and goals for braided rivers in Canterbury.
BRR is a non-statutory process, and is a level of service for us in the Long-Term Plan 2021–2031.
Ki uta ki tai river strategies
Part of BRR includes the development of revival strategies for braided rivers across our region. The strategies aim to pull together current plans and pathways for river revival across individual rivers and provide key actions to inform revival of the mauri of these waterways. These strategies are referred to as 'ki uta ki tai river strategies'.
Two strategies are currently underway:
- We are developing a revival strategy for the Ashley River/Rakahuri with Ngāi Tūāhuriri.
- Ko te Whakahaumanu o te Rakitata Awa (Rakitata/Rangitata Revival) a partnership programme established by Te Rūnanga o Arowhenua and the Department of Conservation (DOC) through DOC's Ngā Awa programme.
Regionwide planting and berm transition
Our berm transition project between 2021 and 2023 used native enhancement planting and targeted weeding to increase resilience of river berms and support regeneration of habitat for native animals and plants on 23 rivers throughout Canterbury.
Thanks to Central Government’s climate resilience fund and local funding, the project gave us the opportunity to test these natural infrastructure methods and implement the holistic river management lens.