Lower Waitaki South Coastal Canterbury Water Zone Committee progress report

Each of Waitaha/Canterbury’s water zone committees has an action plan which outlines how they will work with the community to deliver their aspirations for freshwater as outlined in the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS). Committees report annually to let the CWMS partners and community know how things are tracking.

2022/23 Progress report

From the chair

Michael McMillian, Lower Waitaki Water Zone Committee Chair

Michael McMillian, Lower Waitaki Water Zone Committee Chair

There is a lot of mahi/work to be done in the zone and the Zone Committee appreciates the vital role community groups play in improving water quality, biodiversity, mahinga kai and wellbeing.

Our zone has many motivated and hardworking volunteer groups including three catchment groups, two wetland groups, and at least five groups protecting and restoring native forest/bush, walkways and wetlands. Numerous landowners are also playing their part in reducing nutrient loss and making other environmental improvements.

The Zone Committee is privileged to assist these community efforts financially through its Action Plan budget, by facilitating the sharing of information and ideas, and by connecting with our manawhenua (Te Rūnanga o Waihao, Te Rūnanga o Moeraki and Te Rūnanga o Arowhenua), Waimate District Council, Waitaki District Council, Environment Canterbury and the wider community.

In 2022 the Zone Committee hosted a stand at Strawberry Fare in Waimate focussing on stormwater. The committee enjoyed connecting with the community, and particularly with children, on this important subject.

On 9 December 2023 the committee will again be at Strawberry Fare. This year we want to highlight all the great environmental work done in the zone. Catchment and community groups are invited to join the Zone Committee on the day or to provide information or displays.

Michael McMillan.

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View of coastal South Canterbury from Mount Studholme.

Key achievements for 2022/23

  • Supported the establishment of the Makikihi Otaio Catchment Group
  • Funding for enhancement of recreational areas and willow control on the Waihao River
  • Funding for the Waitaki Valley community nursery
  • Community engagement on stormwater at Waimate Strawberry Fare

Local projects helping to deliver on the CWMS targets

Read some of the stories about what is being done in the zone to deliver on the CWMS targets.

Working with key partners

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Working with the Kurow Wetland Group has been one of our highlights for the year.

Kurow wetland willow and weed eradication

The Zone Committee recommended funding for the excavation/mulching and follow up spraying at the south side of the wetland in preparation for natives to be planted.

The Kurow Wetland Group have been working on this wetland beside the Waitaki River in stages. The north side of the wetland is relatively under control after the initial willow eradication, native planting working bees, and regular maintenance.

However, the south side of the wetland is still impenetrable with willow/weed infestation and heavy machinery is required to provide access for the start of a spray programme on that side. It is anticipated that once the south side of the wetland is opened up the cabbage trees, raupō and carex will thrive like they have on the north side.

This work helps meet these CWMS targets: Ecosystem health and biodiversityNatural character of braided rivers and Recreational and amenity opportunities

Action Plan budget project

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Students propagate plants to add to the nursery.

The Lower Waitaki Water Zone Committee supported the Hakataramea Sustainability Collective (HSC) with a further $10,000 to continue its community native nursery.

Launched toward the end of 2022, the nursery is a collaboration between Waitaki Valley School and HSC to protect and enhance regional biodiversity.

This new round of funding will be used to employ a nursery assistant to help maintain and coordinate activities on-site and to purchase more native plants to be cared for by students and community volunteers. HSC plans to plant these in a demonstration garden in the empty space between the nursery and the school. This will provide inspiration for people and a chance to explore the plants native to the region and learn how best to plant them and support their growth.

This work helps meet these CWMS targets: Ecosystem health and biodiversity and Recreational and amenity opportunities

Ground work in the zone

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The Stormwater Superhero trailer at the Waimate Strawberry Fare.

The Zone Committee hosted a stand at the Strawberry Fare festival in Waimate to engage with and educate the community on urban stormwater. The purpose was to highlight the importance of reducing toxins and waste getting into our stormwater networks which eventually make their way into the wider environment and waterways.

The stand incorporated the Stormwater Superhero trailer and the tuna and drains games which were popular with the children and provided opportunities for discussions with adults and children.

Visitors were offered Stormwater Superhero brochures to take away and invited to complete feedback questionnaires and enter a draw to win a Stormwater Superheroes t-shirt. Everyone who completed the questionnaires said they learnt something and would change their behaviours.

This work helps meet these CWMS targets: Ecosystem health and biodiversityKaitiakitanga and Recreational and amenity opportunities

Delivering the community's vision for freshwater

The Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS) puts some responsibility for finding solutions for freshwater management in the hands of the community, with support from councils, Ngāi Tahu, and others. The strategy sets out freshwater goals and targets to deliver the community’s vision for freshwater.

Each of the community-led water zone committees work collaboratively to develop freshwater recommendations for councils to help ensure plans give effect to these goals and targets.

Within each target area, there are several specific time-bound targets to be achieved and these are monitored and reported on to ensure progress is being made.

The CWMS targets are: Environmental limitsEcosystem health and biodiversityNatural character of braided riversKaitiakitanga,  Drinking waterRecreational and amenity opportunitiesWater use efficiencyIrrigated land area, Energy security and efficiency and Indicators of regional and national economies.

Future challenges and opportunities – 2023/24

The increased nitrate levels in the Lower Waihao (including Waikākahi East) rural water scheme are concerning. The Zone Committee supports the Environment Canterbury and Morven Glenavy Irrigation Company critical source mapping project in the Lower Waihao catchment.

Wainono Lagoon’s trophic level index status has not improved nor worsened in recent years, however unexpected macrophyte growth may be an encouraging sign. The committee is increasing its engagement with Te Rūnanga o Waihao, Waihao Wainono Catchment Community Group and Waimate District Council to support further actions to improve water quality in the Wainono catchment. We expect continued focus on the Waihao River and tributaries as well as urban streams.

The committee is pleased to support the emerging Makikihi Otaio Catchment Group and looks forward to seeing their vision and future plans.

On the south side of the Waitaki River, there are several projects that the Zone Committee has supported and will remain interested in their progress including Te Rūnanga of Moeraki’s Te Whiria te Waitaki project to restore mahika kai at traditional sites; the Kurow and Duntroon wetland restorations; and Waitaki Valley School’s community nursery.

Previous progress reports

2021 progress report

2020 progress report

2019 progress report

2018 progress report