Horizons Regional Council to lead partnership in constructing wetland for Lake Horowhenua restoration

Horizons Regional Council have reached a major milestone in the path to restoring Lake Horowhenua by securing a land package to construct a nationally significant wetland complex.

Governance Group Chair for the project and Horizons’ Chair Rachel Keedwell says the land package was purchased for $6.75m, with $5.6m of that coming from central government’s Jobs for Nature funding.
“This wetland complex adds to a suite of completed and in progress interventions, which include the constructed sediment trap, Hokio Stream fish pass, and weed harvesting to address water quality and aquatic health within the Lake Horowhenua catchment.
“Together, this combination of interventions, alongside working with horticultural growers and other land users to reduce the impact of their operations on the lake water quality, will provide water quality and aquatic health in the Lake Horowhenua catchment.
The wetland complex project has a total cost of $12.5 million, with Council’s share equating to $1.3m.
“Council and the community are grateful for this additional funding from central government, as it provides us with an opportunity to make significant improvements to the catchment’s water quality, which we wouldn’t have been able to afford to do otherwise,” says Chair Keedwell.
“Together, this combination of interventions will provide an opportunity to deliver real change for the Lake, not only environmental outcomes, but community, cultural, and economic focused outcomes.
“Converting part of the 142 hectares from dairy farm to wetland will result in positive changes for Lake Horowhenua and we intend a collaborative approach working with Muaūpoko Tribal Authority and Lake Horowhenua Trust. Horizons has also established a Governance Group to address water quality issues across the wider area.
“Having a working partnership, including engagement with the wider community, is vital to ensure the project is successful in its own right before we see the environmental benefits begin to occur.
“Not only will the wetland complex help to reduce the amounts of nitrogen, sediment and phosphorus entering the lake, but project partners are also looking at opportunities to incorporate a walkway between Lake Horowhenua and Lake Waiwiri (Papaitonga), forest and ecosystem restoration and recreational areas.
“The wetland complex aims to reduce nitrogen levels in the lake through water quality interventions including the construction of a wetland complex. This will allow the lake to progress towards water quality targets within the One Plan and the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM).
“This is especially significant as Lake Horowhenua and the Arawhata Stream are below the national bottom line for total nitrogen and nitrate under the NPS-FM.
The Lake Horowhenua Trustees say with a goal of improving the water quality within Punahau - Lake Horowhenua, the owners of the Lake, had to get involved in the Arawhata project.
“The Lake Horowhenua Trust sees the project as a significant step forwards towards an integrated, enduring solution to the water quality issues which have plagued Punahau - Lake Horowhenua for decades.
“It is very exciting to see progress as kaitiaki of this Muaūpoko taonga and the Trust welcomes the deepening relationship and spirit of co-creation that is slowly growing between Muaūpoko, Horizons, the Horowhenua District Council and the Ministry for the Environment as we strive to bring the Mauri back to our Lake.
“We see the partnership approach developed within this project as integral as there is a need for collaboration, coordination and communication at a governance level for this to work.
“The Trust hopes to see the confirmed involvement of the Muaūpoko Tribal Authority as the Iwi Authority over the Lake catchment and Arawhata project area soon, as we see this as paramount to the success of the project; and we acknowledge parts of the project could include work in the Waikawa catchment and parts of the Ohau catchment where both Raukawa and Muaūpoko have asserted their as yet unsettled interests.
“With the purchase of the farm now secured, we are now able to move forward into the exciting planning stages towards building a better future.”