Funds for Manuherekia project will help restore waterway’s health

The Thompsons Creek projects, part of the wider Manuherekia catchment programme in Central Otago, have been granted Jobs for Nature funding to help improve water quality and restore freshwater habitats.

It is expected to generate about eight full time equivalent roles across three years.

“The Thompsons Creek projects are based around community engagement, working with landowners, fencing and riparian planting, and protection of threatened, native freshwater fish,” Environment Minister David Parker said.

“What is learnt here can inform efforts across the wider Manuherekia catchment programme.”

The Manuherekia catchment was selected as an Exemplar project as part of the At-Risk Catchment Programme by Ministers David Parker and Damien O’Connor. The Thompsons Creek project will receive $2.9 million in Jobs for Nature funding.

“This approach brings together a range of stakeholders including famers, community groups and iwi, to stop the degradation of the Manuherekia catchment and undo past damage,” David Parker said.

“The Manuherekia rises between the St Bathans and Hawkdun ranges in the stunning landscape that has inspired artists such as painter Sir Grahame Sydney and poet Brian Turner,” David Parker said.

Co-chair of the Manuherekia Exemplar Project Governance Group, Anna Gillespie acknowledged the goodwill and support from farmers, agencies, iwi and experts to work together to get this project up and running in a catchment with the complexities of the Manuherekia.

“It’s the beginning of a journey which should see some very exciting initiatives for the catchment and community.”

Nicola McGrouther, the project manager for the Thompsons Creek project said work on the wetland will include removing willows, constructing a meandering pathway for the waterway and replanting with (locally sourced) native plants, including over 50,000 tussock (Pūrei/carex secta).

Notes to editors:

  • Further improvements to water quality at the bottom of the Thompsons Creek catchment and the wider catchment are anticipated by modifying an existing pond into a constructed wetland at the bottom of the sluice channel – sub-channel of Thompsons Creek.
  • A barrier will be installed to prevent trout and perch from moving upstream at three sites, where they pose a threat to Galaxiids.  
  • The constructed wetland project is expected to reduce sediment by up to 70 per cent in the sluice channel sub-catchment and reduce nitrogen by up to 30 per cent.
  • Survey work conducted in January 2021 – March 2021 was the first collaborative effort between Otago Regional Council, Fish and Game, Department of Conservation, independent scientists and landowners to survey a whole catchment and develop a joint management plan for native fish species within the catchment.
  • The At-Risk Catchment programme provides $12 million over four years.
  • The catchment group is a farmer/community-led incorporated society representing, the approximately 700 water users in the Thompsons Creek catchment.
  • The galaxiid work is an innovative approach to managing fish species within Central Otago and will establish a template for the rest of the Manuherekia and Central Otago.
  • The Manuherekia Exemplar Catchment Governance Group met in-person for the first time on 7 June near the site of the Thompsons Creek projects at Omakau.
  • Funding support (including in-kind contributions by landowners, partners, and stakeholders) will enable the delivery of actions identified by the group.