Northern Wairoa Project

We’re proud to be working alongside eight partners on a project aimed at improving water quality in the Northern Wairoa River and its tributaries.

The Wairoa River, Northland’s longest river, flows into the Kaipara, the Southern Hemisphere’s largest harbour, and is a national taonga.

This unique partnership is working with landowners and tangata whenua on sustainable land management practices informed by māturanga Māori.

About the project

The overall goal of the project is to reduce sediment and bacteria levels in the Northern Wairoa River and its tributaries - which will ultimately improve the mauri of the Kaipara Harbour.

The Kaipara is the largest harbour in the Southern Hemisphere and is a national taonga for its many ecological, cultural, historic and economic values. The harbour contains some of the rarest ecosystems in New Zealand – including sand dunes, seagrass beds, and wetlands. It is a nursery for west coast snapper, grey mullet, flounder and other fish. It supports commercial, recreational and customary fisheries, agriculture, industry and tourism.

The mauri (spiritual life force) of the harbour, its’ ecological health and wellbeing, are being degraded, particularly by the high sediment carrying Wairoa River.

A collaborative effort

In 2017, a group of mana whenua, community organisations, NGOs and government agencies that care about the Kaipara, came together with a common vision for a healthier and more productive catchment and harbour.

We all want healthy land, water and people, elevated mauri, abundant kai and productive land in the Kaipara. This project is a collaborative effort that draws on the experience and knowledge of the project partners:

  • Ngā Kaitiaki o Ngā Wai Māori
  • Te Roroa
  • Te Uri o Hau
  • Integrated Kaipara Harbour Management Group
  • Reconnecting Northland
  • DOC and Fonterra Living Water Partnership
  • Northland Regional Council
  • Manaaki Whenua (Landcare Research)
  • Sustainable Business Network’s Million Metres Streams Project

Together we developed a Northern Wairoa Freshwater Improvement project and we were successful in receiving funding from the Ministry for the Environment’s Freshwater Improvement Fund.

Over the next five years we will:

  • Work with mana whenua and landowners to incorporate Mātauranga Māori (indigenous knowledge) alongside good farming and forestry principles and restoration practice.
  • Complete at least 180 farm environment plans with landowners to identify, prioritise and adopt sustainable land management practices on their farms.
  • Provide subsidies to landowners to assist with fencing, planting, stock water reticulation and wetland enhancement.
  • Target our efforts on the highly erodible land in the catchment.
  • Set up new freshwater quality monitoring sites in the catchment.

For more information on the project, you can contact one of our Freshwater Improvement Land Management Advisors: