Government joins forces with Central Otago communities to clean up waterways

  • Hon David Parker

The Manuherekia catchment in Central Otago is the third exemplar catchment to be targeted as part of the Government’s plan to clean up waterways by supporting community-led programmes.  

Environment Minister David Parker said the Manuherekia catchment is vitally important to the people of Central Otago. 

“The Manuherekia rises in the Hawkdun ranges and flows through some of New Zealand’s most stunning landscapes that inspired the paintings of Grahame Sydney and the poems of Brian Turner,” David Parker said. 

“It provides water for farming, viticulture and horticulture. It is also a popular place for people to swim, kayak and fish. 

“However, the river is under pressure, with water quality declining and over-allocation of water reducing the minimum flow needed for ecological processes, such as providing habitat for wildlife, and for recreational use.” 

The At-Risk Catchment programme provides $12 million over four years, including to the three exemplar catchments that have been announced: Kaipara Moana, Te Hoiere/Pelorus and now, the Manuherekia. 

“We will work with farmers and others in the community to help understand what can make the greatest difference and then what interventions to take. The lessons learned from ‘exemplar’ catchments like Manuherekia can then be passed on to others,” David Parker said. 

The Government is working with the Central Otago community, along with Treaty partner Ngāi Tahu, to lead the work help improve the health of the river.  

Two initial projects are being developed that will provide a starting point for the work that needs to be done by the community.  

This includes a 15 kilometre riparian planting, fencing and wetland restoration project in Thomson’s Creek and an assessment of the fish passage and barriers for native galaxiids. 

The second project will improve the knowledge of the mahinga kai and biodiversity values in the catchment to support further restoration work that will use complementary innovative and traditional technologies. 

“We are continuing to roll out our plan to clean up waterways. What we learn with Manuherekia will add to the knowledge gained from the Kaipara and Pelorus catchments,” David Parker said.  

“This is about everyone coming together to stop the degradation and undo the damage of the past. 

“Every New Zealander should be able to go down to our local river in summer for a swim and put our head under without getting sick,” David Parker said.  

“Working with the community we are fulfilling the Government’s promise to stop the degradation of our waterways, make measureable improvements within five years and return them to health in a generation,” David Parker said. 

This work complements the Government’s Essential Freshwater plan.  

This plan will:

  • give councils national direction on freshwater standards
  • put in place measures to improve land use such as controlling poor winter grazing practices
  • give guidance on the preservation of highly productive land and urban development.  

David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor made the announcement at Ophir Hall close to the Historic Ophir Bridge over the Manuherekia River.