Jobs for Nature projects in the Horizons Region

In 2020 we bid for more than $100 million of funding for environmental enhancement projects in response to the Government’s call for shovel ready projects to help with New Zealand’s economic recovery from COVID-19.
The 13 project applications we put forward focus on protecting and enhancing water quality and biodiversity, as well as enhancing soil conservation, native fish populations and biosecurity efforts. The total value of these projects is $150 million, with the balance to be made up from Horizons and project partners.
These work programmes will create a range of short and long-term jobs within the region and have a number of environmental benefits ranging from improved water quality to protecting our patches of native New Zealand. They are based on work programmes Horizons already has underway to accelerate achieving environmental outcomes.
Information on the environmental enhancement bids that we have been successful with are shared below, with updates provided as Government makes more announcements. The projects granted funding to date will progress the objectives of national freshwater management regulatory reforms and provide an opportunity to strengthen our partnerships with iwi, landowners, and community groups:

Riparian planting and stream fencing
Horowhenua Freshwater Management Unit water quality interventions
Enhancing native fish populations through fish passage remediation
To view our current vacancies related to these projects please see here. These jobs will get staff out and about, contributing to water quality and aquatic habitat improvements, and engaging with community members. The roles will suit people with a range of experience from graduates through to those with a few years out in the field.

Riparian planting and stream fencing

Jobs for Nature Government funding: $4.6 million
Horizons funding: $2.7 million
Landowners funding: $4 million
Total project cost: $11.3 million
Jobs over life of project1,2: 125

This project builds on our existing stream fencing and riparian planting programme, expanding it to accelerate the achievement of water quality outcomes. Our current programme targets delivery of over 79km of stream fencing and 63,333 riparian plants per year, which prior to this new funding was set to reduce in the coming years. The funding received will enable the programme to deliver over and above these targets over a four year period starting this year. Stream fencing is one of the key interventions to making to region’s rivers more swimmable through reducing E. coli concentrations through stock exclusion from waterways.
Over recent years, we have not been able to meet the demand for stream fencing and riparian planting on farms and have had to delay interest from landowners due to lack of funding and staff resource. Government support will provide more funding and staff resource to scale up to meet demand, and other existing staff resource will contribute to the delivery of the programme. This work will target all waterways as smaller waterways are the major contributor to nutrient and E. coli loads in the region’s rivers. Any landowners with an interest in undertaking stream fencing and planting are encouraged to contact the Freshwater Team vis freephone 0508 800 800.

Key outputs over 4 years

  • 405 kilometres stream fencing
  • 375,000 riparian plants established and maintained

Environmental benefits

  • Increased habitat complexity for aquatic life
  • Decreased stream temperatures
  • Increased food supply for native fish
  • Decreased erosion of stream banks
  • Decreased periphyton growth
  • Improved dissolved oxygen
  • Reductions in nutrient concentrations
  • Reductions in E. coli concentrations
  • Stock excluded from waterways

Horowhenua Freshwater Management Unit water quality interventions

Jobs for Nature Government funding: $11.2 million
Horizons funding: $1.3 million
Total project cost: $12.5 million
Jobs over life of project1,2: 45

Lake Horowhenua is a taonga for local iwi/hapū and has a degraded state below many national bottom lines for water quality. It has also shown decline in some water quality parameters since the turn of this century. The Lake Horowhenua Accord is a collaborative effort that has invested with Crown support in the restoration of Lake Horowhenua through a range of projects.
Scientific modelling by NIWA predicts the existing investments, such as a major sediment trap and lake weed harvesting will provide significant water quality benefits. However, more will be needed to address water quality in the lake, particularly to manage nutrient inputs. The Arawhata sub-catchment of the lake has high nitrogen concentrations and is the most significant surface water source of flow, nutrient and sediment to the lake. The catchment has a large proportion of highly productive soils that are used for horticulture. The future of this industry on these soils is at risk if water quality interventions are not made.
This project proposes a wetland complex as a major water quality intervention, as well as a linked programme of catchment works that include sediment traps, wetlands and drainage system upgrades to improve water quality. The main target for the wetland complex is reduced nitrogen concentrations, and the wider project will target a range of water quality measures including sediment, phosphorus and bacteria. The initial idea has been developed over time by an alliance involving a range of stakeholders including councils, horticulture growers, iwi and environmental groups. The project will further develop the wetland idea into a tangible set of water quality interventions across the Lake Horowhenua sub-catchment to improve water quality and aquatic health in Lake Horowhenua.

Key outputs

  • Year 1: employment of project manager within 3-6 months. Decision on the land that the wetland complex will be built on, finalisation of the wetland/s design and consent requirements confirmed, consent application lodged. Property purchase/legal arrangement in place and completion of plan for the broader catchment and other water quality interventions.
  • Year 2: consent granted.
  • Years 2-4: construction of sediment treatment devices, drainage upgrades, construction of wetland module cells for wetland and planting of wetland species, and maintenance of species planted in previous years. Monitoring of effectiveness for sediment and nitrogen reductions.

Environmental benefits

  • Reduction in nitrogen levels allowing progression towards water quality targets within the One Plan and the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPSFM) and enhancement of water quality. This is especially with Lake Horowhenua and the Arawhata Stream being below the national bottom line for total nitrogen and nitrate under the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. 
  • Improvement in other water quality parameters including sediment and phosphorus.
  • Improvement of water quality in Lake Horowhenua leading to improvement in native fish populations.
  • Reversion of land back to a natural wetland where one previously existed.
  • Improvements in habitat for wetland bird and plant species.
  • Reduces nitrogen leaching within the catchment with conversion of existing land use into a wetland.

Enhancing native fish populations through fish passage remediation

Jobs for Nature Government funding: $2.6 million
Horizons funding: $300,000
Barrier owners funding: $300,000
Total project cost: $3.2 million
Jobs over life of project1,2: 26

Many of the region’s waterways have lower native fish diversity and numbers than predictive models estimate. One of the factors limiting the distribution of native fish in the region is barriers to their migration. We have a current programme which identifies barriers to passage and remediation, however, the current scale of the remediation programme does not keep up with the level at which they are found. This is one project to help restore the native fish populations to the region.

Watch the video below to learn about how this project has improved passage for native fish.

Key outputs

  • Stream walking to identify, prioritise and remediate barriers to fish passage.
  • Monitoring of previous fish barrier remediation to assess effectiveness.
  • Monitoring of fish and kākahi (freshwater mussel) populations to further understand habitat limitations and long term effect of barriers to fish passage.
  • Refinement of the existing Horizons fish barrier database and providing the information in publicly available format.
  • At least 25 barriers to fish passage will be removed and 1,250kms of stream habitat opened up for migratory fish.

Environmental benefits

  • Restoration of migratory pathways for native fish.
  • Increase in native fish numbers and distribution in catchments.
  • Aligns with riparian fencing and planting programme to improve aquatic habitat.
  • Increase kākahi recruitment (juvenile kākahi are dependent on fish as a host species).

1 Employment totals are the number of FTE's created over the life of the project e.g. 1 Project Manager over 5 years is 5 FTE.
2 Employment totals include new jobs for fencing contractors, nurseries, other service providers and for some additional Horizons employees.