Whakamana te Waituna

Who's working in Waituna?

In recent years there has been significant investment by various parties to develop a greater understanding of the Waituna catchment and lagoon, and to start addressing the challenges.

In 2001, members of the Waituna community became aware that changing and intensive land use was having effects on the lagoon and set up the Waituna Landcare Group. Since then, the community alongside Iwi and agencies have all contributed towards the wellbeing of the people, the land, the waters, the ecosystems, and the life-force of the Waituna catchment and lagoon.

The main tributary, Waituna Creek, flowing into the Waituna Lagoon. Photo by Katrina Robertson

Waituna Partners' Group
A governance group made up of the Department of Conservation, Environment Southland, the Southland District Council, Te Rūnanga o Awarua and Te Rūnanga Ngāi Tahu. The overarching role of the Partners Group is to provide strategic direction and assume responsibility for achieving the vision.

The Partners Group has the following functions:
• to facilitate and promote the integrated management of the Waituna catchment and
• approval of action and/or operational plans prepared by the Working Group;
• the provision of leadership within their organisations and the community in relation
to implementation of the vision;
• the identification and consideration of significant existing and emerging issues;
• the receiving of reports on activities being undertaken by the Partners and other
relevant organisations;
• ensuring agreed outcomes from the Partners Group are implemented within their
• coordination and, when relevant, approval of funding applications and/or requests
prepared by the Working Group.

DairyNZ is the industry organisation representing New Zealand’s dairy farmers. Funded by a levy on milk solids and through government investment, its purpose is to secure and enhance the profitability, sustainability and competitiveness of New Zealand dairy farming. Through a national industry strategy for sustainable dairy farming, DairyNZ and industry partners are committed to proactive environmental stewardship and wise use of natural resources on dairy land. DairyNZ adopts an evidence-based approach to understand environmental issues, develop solutions, and lead on-farm change where required.
They have been involved with science and research efforts in the Waituna catchment and lagoon to understand lagoon health, catchment water quality and loads, potential mitigations for nutrient management, and the social and economic impact of potential changes to underwrite sound decision making.

Department of Conservation
The Awarua-Waituna Wetland complex is part of Arawai Kākāriki, a large scale wetland restoration programme led by the Department of Conservation with the goal to protect wetlands and increase our understanding of these productive environments. There is a focus on three of New Zealand's most significant wetland sites: Awarua Waituna in Southland, Ō Tū Wharekai in Canterbury and Whangamarino Wetland in in the Waikato.
Awarua-Waituna (Waituna catchment) is also one of five key focus catchments in the Living Water partnership between the Department of Conservation and Fonterra, working with local communities, dairy farmers, iwi/hapū and other stakeholders to implement game changing and scalable solutions that demonstrate sustainable dairying in healthy freshwater environments.

Environment Southland
As a regional council, Environment Southland is responsible for the sustainable management of Southland’s natural resources – land, water, air and coast – in partnership with the community. Environment Southland aims to lead and involve the Southland community in managing these natural resources in order to protect and enhance the lifestyle and wellbeing of current and future generations. Staff from various different teams at Environment Southland are involved in a range of activities in Waituna, from providing advice and assistance to the community on sustainable land management practices and pest control, drainage management in the Waituna Creek catchment (as part of a special rate), to water quality, compliance monitoring and science investigations.

Opening the lagoon in 2012 through the gravel bar that separates it from the sea. Photo by Katrina Robertson.

Sustainable nutrition begins on the farm and our Sustainable Dairying team helps farmers in the Waituna Catchment to identify and act on sustainability opportunities for the future benefit of their dairy businesses. We provide specialised regional knowledge, expertise and services to support best practice farm management, proactively stay ahead of regulatory requirements, and satisfy evolving consumer and market expectations. Our Tiaki programme offers tools and services tailored to each individual farm such as farm environment plans, consent support, nutrient budgets, nitrogen reports and farm mapping.

Awarua-Waituna (Waituna catchment) is also one of five key focus catchments in the Living Water partnership between the Department of Conservation and Fonterra, working with local communities, dairy farmers, iwi/hapū and other stakeholders to implement game changing and scalable solutions that demonstrate sustainable dairying in healthy freshwater environments.

Lake Waituna Control Association
Since 1969 the Lake Waituna Control Association has overseen the organising of lagoon openings on behalf of local farmers (and also fishermen in the early days) with the permission of the then Southland Catchment Board. Initially the elected committee consisted of six landowners, plus one co-opted from the Acclimatisation Society. Subsidies towards the costs of lagoon openings were provided in the early days by the Acclimatisation Society and the Catchment Board. With the introduction of the Resource Management Act in 1991 consent was necessary for the activity of opening the lagoon. The most recent consent for this activity was granted in February 2017.

Southland District Council
Southland District Council has an interest in the Waituna catchment and lagoon as a landowner with areas of reserve land along Waituna Creek, in the wider management of land use and how it relates to the lagoon and wetland, and as an administrator of the road and bridging network. While the District Council has statutory responsibilities under the Resource Management and Building Acts, it also supports initiatives that work with the community and other agencies such as the High Value Area Assessments (free ecological surveys of natural areas on properties), and the Waituna Partners Group.

Te Rūnanga o Awarua and Te Rūnanga Ngāi Tahu
The area is highly significant to Ngāi Tahu for food and natural resources.This significance was recognised by a Statutory Acknowledgement under the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998. Māori had considerable knowledge of whakapapa, traditional trails, tauranga waka (landings), places for gathering kai and other resources (taonga). They had, and continue to maintain, a strong relationship with Waituna. Through tikanga and understanding the proper and sustainable utilisation of resources the Waituna remains important to Ngāi Tahu today.

Ducks on the lagoon. Photo by McNaughton family.

Waituna Landcare Group
Formed in June 2001 as a result of as a result of local concern being expressed about the health of Waituna Lagoon. To try and understand what the water quality was like in the catchment the group became involved in monthly testing on the contributing streams using the Stream Health Monitoring and Assessment Kit, and also assisted Environment Southland in early years by collecting monthly water samples from the lagoon.
In more recent years with the emergence of other groups, the Landcare Group has been involved in setting up and maintaining riparian planting sites around the catchment, using plants from their own plant nursery; restoring a gravel pit to a wetland; working with Gorge Road School Waituna Ambassadors; and continued promotion of, and awareness of our local environment and its special values, through an annual World Wetlands Day event in February, often involving the whole Gorge Road School.

Waituna Liaison Committee
The Liaison Committee was formed in 2011 following communication between members of the Waituna community and Environment Southland, which identified the need for local input into Council’s management of the Waituna Creek Drainage District, which consists of Waituna Creek and its tributaries. To date the committee has been involved in discussing the bank reconstruction project on Waituna Creek undertaken by Environment Southland from 2013-2015, in terms of the location of the works and the contribution of rates to the works. Annual meetings also discuss drainage maintenance budgets for the upcoming year, and drainage management in the Waituna Creek catchment.

Waituna Lagoon Recreational Users Group Incorporated
This passionate group of hut owners and their friends who have been regularly visiting Waituna Lagoon for years for recreational purposes became incorporated in 2017. They do not represent all hut owners or recreational users of the lagoon. They have 12 huts on the Department of Conservation land at the lagoon between the approximately 20 members.

Activities the group has been involved with to date include:
• working bees picking up rubbish around the lagoon and on the beach
• fixing the boat ramp at Waghorn Road
• keeping gorse at bay around the huts and surroundings
• trapping pests in conjunction with the Department of Conservation which involves checking and rebaiting 15 traps.