Five-year dune lakes project coming to an end

19 Sep 2022, 8:41 AM

The five-year Freshwater Improvement Fund Dune Lakes project is coming to a close, with a final education event held at Roto Pārera (Ruakākā Dune Lake) on Thursday, 15 September.

Eighty students from Bream Bay College and One Tree Point School learned about threats to dune lakes, lake health, pest and native fish, torewai (freshwater mussels) and plants during this interactive day out. Patuharakeke contributed with kōrero about the significance of Roto Pārera to local iwi.

The project is co-funded by the Ministry for the Environment and Northland Regional Council, with the goal of improving water quality in a number of Northland’s dune lakes by targeting threats to lakes, including controlling water weeds and pest fish, and reducing nutrient and sediment inputs.

The project is run in partnership with mana whenua iwi and hapū, residents local to the lakes and landowners and has provided fantastic education opportunities for Taitokerau school children, with 16 education events having taken place over the five-year period, involving up to 1000 tamariki.

The education events have been “get to know your dune lake” days, giving the children an opportunity to learn more about these unique and fragile ecosystems, whilst providing hands-on opportunities to look at lake plants, fish and water quality.

Dune lakes are rare ecosystem types on a global scale, but Northland is home to over 400 of them and the top 12 ecologically outstanding lakes in Northland are all dune lakes

Susan Karels, Education Manager at Northland Regional Council said; “This project has brought an incredible contextual learning experience to the tamariki of Taitokerau, giving them understanding and tools to protect their local ecosystems. It has enabled all of us involved to learn from experts sharing their knowledge in exciting and practical ways and we are so grateful for this.”

The results of the project will be vital to improving the health of Northland’s dune lakes in years to come.

Dune lakes are generally closed systems that are sensitive to external influences. Factors such as excess nutrient causing algal blooms, pest fish, aquatic weeds, land use, and water-take all contribute to declining water quality in our dune lakes.

Among the steps taken to improve the health of our dune lakes are eradicating water-weeds, controlling pest fish, removing grass carp, stock exclusion through fencing and reticulation and remedying nutrient and sediment inputs.

Further information about the dune lakes project can be found at:

Group of students in front of a dune lake.

One Tree Point School students were among those attending an education event held at Roto Pārera (Ruakākā Dune Lake), Thursday 15 September.