Whakamana te Waituna

About us

Whakamana te Waituna Trust

The Whakamana te Waituna Trust was set up in February 2018 to coordinate activities of the partners involved in working to restore the mana of the Waituna Lagoon and Catchment - Te Runanga o Awarua/Te Runanga o Ngāi Tahu; Department of Conservation; Environment Southland; Southland District Council; Fonterra (joint Living Water programme with DOC).

The partners and the Ministry for the Environment, through the Freshwater Improvement Fund, committed $13.3 million funding over five years. Whakamana te Waituna's programme was established to address the pressures on, and ensure the long-term resilience of, the Waituna community, catchment and lagoon.

The Trustees are:

Dean Whaanga, Co-Chair Gail Thompson (Te Rūnanga o Awarua), Cr Peter McDonald, Co-Chair Nicol Horrell (Environment Southland), Michael Jones (Fonterra), Cr Paul Duffy, Cr Julie Keast (Southland District Council) Michael Skerrett, Robin Campbell, Mark Robinson, (Independent Trustees), and Aaron Fleming, John McCarroll (Advisors to the Trust, Department of Conservation).

A Project Steering Group (Sue Corby, Ngāi Tahu; Bob Penter, Executive Director; Nick Perham, Environment Southland; Sarah Yarrow, Fonterra) supports the work of the Trust, and Workstream Leads report to the Project Steering Group. A Project Office runs the administrative matters for the Trust.

Lagoon in September 2022

October/November 2022 Update

Future work in and around Waituna Lagoon will benefit from an upcoming evaluation of the past five years of projects, those involved with Whakamana te Waituna say.

Since 2017, Whakamana te Waituna, a five-year, multi-partner project has delivered projects aimed at improving the health of Waituna Lagoon and catchment. The partners are: Awarua Rūnanga, Department of Conservation and Fonterra (Living Water partnership), Environment Southland, Ngāi Tahu and the Southland District Council.

Executive Director Bob Penter says the Trust’s vision of restoring the mana of the Waituna Lagoon is a complex challenge that no single organisation or group can do alone or quickly.

“The partnership approach has been key to making progress and completing so many projects. It’s also important for the partners to reflect on what’s been done, the difference this has made over the past five years, and how the partners can build on this as they move forward with future activities,” Bob says.

The programme was unique in setting up an outcomes-based assessment framework at the beginning for both planning and subsequently evaluating the programme. As it draws to a close the framework is being used to help understand how the programme has contributed to the different outcomes.

Will Allen and Viv Sherwood were part of the team that developed the original assessment framework, and have returned to help the Trust with the evaluation.

“Evaluation is about asking ‘What? So what? And what’s next?’ People need to think about how their work has measured up and what they might do differently in the future,” Will and Viv say.

“What we do is work together with the key people involved to put together a performance story based on the existing information and monitoring that’s been done, as well as a series of workshops. A performance story presents evidence of how a programme has contributed to outcomes and impacts, that is then reviewed by both technical experts and stakeholders. The aim is to tell the ‘story’ of a programme’s performance using multiple lines of evidence.”

This assessment is essential to help the partners focus on Trust achievements and outcomes to date, towards improving the mana of Waituna Lagoon, Bob says.

“And even more importantly this information and understanding will inform the partners’ decision-making for the future”.

Whakamana te Waituna's specific aims are to:

  • Improve water quality in the catchment
  • Support cultural aspirations
  • Protect Waituna Lagoon
  • Test at a larger scale land-use practices and systems for sustainable-farming

“We want to show in the Waituna Catchment we are able to be productive and care for one of our country’s most important wetlands."

  • We aim to create a landward buffer around the lagoon. If we're able to do this, it will reduce the impact of water level fluctuations on farmland. Part of the work programme involves raising the height of the Waghorn Rd Bridge so there is access to the lagoon.
  • We aim to ensure the lagoon can continue to provide for valued activities; the water levels don’t impact on the livelihoods of neighbouring farming families; and establish new areas of land for Te Rūnanga o Awarua and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu whanau to access the lagoon and tributaries to carry out mahinga kai, educational and capacity building programmes around mātauranga Māori.
  • We aim to demonstrate interventions such as alternative drainage system design and management, and farm system interventions in partnership with industry and the community. This will reduce the sources and pathways of nutrients and sediment entering Waituna Lagoon and its tributaries.
  • We aim to enhance resilience by:
    • Addressing the barriers to Te Rūnanga o Awarua and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu’s ability to exercise mātauranga Māori, kaitiakitanga, and mahinga kai in relation to Waituna
    • Demonstrating ways to increase biodiversity
    • Involving the community, stakeholders and interest groups through an Integrated Catchment Management model to address freshwater challenges.

This will:

  • Re-establish local Maori connection and role as kaitiaki, while building mātaraunga Maori and community capacity
  • Maximise biodiversity, cultural, recreational and ecosystem resilience around the management of the Waituna catchment and lagoon.