$3m for environmental hotspot

Funding to improve water quality of Whakaki Lake

Funding to improve water quality of Whakaki Lake

SAVING A TAONGA: A grant of $3 million for Whakaki Lake, north-east of Wairoa, will be used to construct a weir to maintain water levels over summer. Some of the money will also be used to construct a recirculating wetland. This is designed to return cleaner water to the lake. Picture supplied

A GRANT of $3 million for Whakaki Lake, north-east of Wairoa, has been made from the Government’s Freshwater Improvement Fund.

Whakaki Lake is that large body of water drivers pass by on State Highway 2 between Gisborne and Wairoa.

It was one of six areas identified as an “environmental hotspot” in Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s 2017-18 Annual Plan.

There are seven species of fish in the lake.

The most numerous species is the shortfin eel, followed by the common bully, goldfish, longfin eel, flounder, grey mullet and inanga.

More than 40 species of bird have also been recorded around the lake.

The Regional Council’s Te Pou Whakarae (Maori partnerships group manager), Pieri Munro is from the Whakaki community, and welcomed the news.

“The lake is considered a taonga (treasure) to the many hapu of Whakaki Marae, Iwitea Marae and all those who live in the Whakaki catchment. The aim is to restore the health of the lake for future generations so our tuna (eels), morihana (carp) and traditional kai are fit for consumption and people can swim safely.”

Mr Munro said the Regional Council, iwi and farmers had worked hard together, to fence and carry out riparian planting around parts of the lake.

Regional Council catchment manager for Wairoa-Mohaka, Nathan Heath, said the bulk of the funding would be used for two large projects to improve the water quality of the lake.

“The first project is to construct a weir to maintain water levels, and protect the lake from dropping too low in summer. The weir will allow more water to be held in the lake but can be manually opened in late spring or summer to prevent flooding.

“The second significant project is to put in a recirculating wetland. This will pump silt-laden water from the lake, through a wetland treatment system and return cleaner water to the lake.”

Whakaki Lake Trust chair Richard Brooking said the $3m funding announcement was a tremendous result.

“This is a significant milestone for the revitalisation of the lake, support for the current catchment fencing and planting projects. It will also help strengthen our existing community relationships.

“It will be a catalyst for further development including research, science and technology, increased visitor and tourism activity as well as student and adult education opportunities,” said Mr Brooking.

A GRANT of $3 million for Whakaki Lake, north-east of Wairoa, has been made from the Government’s Freshwater Improvement Fund.

Whakaki Lake is that large body of water drivers pass by on State Highway 2 between Gisborne and Wairoa.

It was one of six areas identified as an “environmental hotspot” in Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s 2017-18 Annual Plan.

There are seven species of fish in the lake.

The most numerous species is the shortfin eel, followed by the common bully, goldfish, longfin eel, flounder, grey mullet and inanga.

More than 40 species of bird have also been recorded around the lake.

The Regional Council’s Te Pou Whakarae (Maori partnerships group manager), Pieri Munro is from the Whakaki community, and welcomed the news.

“The lake is considered a taonga (treasure) to the many hapu of Whakaki Marae, Iwitea Marae and all those who live in the Whakaki catchment. The aim is to restore the health of the lake for future generations so our tuna (eels), morihana (carp) and traditional kai are fit for consumption and people can swim safely.”

Mr Munro said the Regional Council, iwi and farmers had worked hard together, to fence and carry out riparian planting around parts of the lake.

Regional Council catchment manager for Wairoa-Mohaka, Nathan Heath, said the bulk of the funding would be used for two large projects to improve the water quality of the lake.

“The first project is to construct a weir to maintain water levels, and protect the lake from dropping too low in summer. The weir will allow more water to be held in the lake but can be manually opened in late spring or summer to prevent flooding.

“The second significant project is to put in a recirculating wetland. This will pump silt-laden water from the lake, through a wetland treatment system and return cleaner water to the lake.”

Whakaki Lake Trust chair Richard Brooking said the $3m funding announcement was a tremendous result.

“This is a significant milestone for the revitalisation of the lake, support for the current catchment fencing and planting projects. It will also help strengthen our existing community relationships.

“It will be a catalyst for further development including research, science and technology, increased visitor and tourism activity as well as student and adult education opportunities,” said Mr Brooking.

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