The margins of Wainono Lagoon are the most extensive wetland area in lowland South Canterbury. The lagoon was very important to Ngāi Tahu hapū of South Canterbury as a mahinga kai source. Unfortunately this is no longer the case because of the degraded state of the lagoon.
Work to protect and restore animals and plants in and around the lagoon is supported by local landowners and rūnanga, the Wainono Water Users Group, the Department of Conservation, QEII Trust, Fish & Game, Waimate District Council and Environment Canterbury. It is in everyone’s interests to work to protect and restore Wainono Lagoon and this what the restoration project is all about.
As at mid-2014, farm surveys of the catchment have been completed, allowing for the start of on-the-ground works around sediment and weed management, fencing, planting and erosion control in conjunction with local landowners.
Local catchment groups, established by Environment Canterbury land management advisors, have generated positive momentum for the project. The Hook Catchment and Wainono Water Users groups have had most involvement in the Lagoon. Read the minutes to find out the latest information.
Thanks to $800,000 from the Government’s Fresh Start for Freshwater Fund and $225,000 from the Canterbury Water Regional Committee and the Lower Waitaki Zone Committee, the project has a solid foundation for continuing its good work.
In August 2014, the Radio New Zealand “Country Life” programme interviewed Kennedy Lange, Environment Canterbury Senior Biodiversity Officer on the Wainono Restoration project. View programme.
A planting day was held at Te Punatarakao Wetland in late March in conjunction with local Rūnanga and the Lower Waitaki – South Coastal Canterbury Zone Committee and Environment Canterbury. There was an excellent turnout, with everyone working together to plant more than 600 native plants along the wetland edge.
Canterbury mudfish (Neochanna burrowsius)/ Kowaro populations have been sampled in streams across the catchment. A key focus of the project is enhancing areas where mudfish live, with the sampling resulting in several locations targeted for development.
A detailed water quality sampling has been established to determine a baseline to measure the progress of the project. There can be much background variation (especially seasonal) which affects water quality and therefore it is important to have a robust process to find this baseline.
A study into the historical conditions of Wainono Lagoon (pdf) was recently completed. The results show that before European settlement the Lagoon was predominantly freshwater. The last 160 years have seen significant change, with the creation of the Waihao Box and conversion to pasture and associated activities (increased sediment and nutrient load from draining, drying, burning and conversion) leading to the current hypertrophic status. Sediment input has been relatively constant since European settlement, with silt comprising around 80% (sand, clay and organic matter making up the rest). This is good news for the project because the remediation actions proposed will trap much sediment this size.
During April 2014, Wainono Lagoon and some of its tributaries were sampled for eel populations by fyke-netting and electrofishing. While few elvers (juvenile eels) were caught, the population of mid-size eels were most common (600mm ±200mm). Fyke-nets recorded a catch between 7.5 and 135.5kg.
Waimate Centennial Primary attended a field day at the Lagoon, where the keen students learnt about the taonga, plants, animals, threats and dynamics of the area. There were excellent questions and discussion with support from Environment Canterbury staff, parents, teachers and local Outdoor Education students from Aoraki Polytechnic. Some of the keen-eyed students even spotted a frolicking Hector’s dolphin just off the gravel bar.
Keeping in touch with the Wainono Lagoon restoration
We will be letting everyone know how we are progressing with the restoration work through regular newsletters.
Issue 3, May 2014 (502 kB)
Issue 2, October 2012 (3 MB)
Issue 1, April 2012
Recent Environmental History of Wainono Lagoon (South Canterbury, New Zealand) (857 kB)
Wainono Lagoon Restoration Newsletter - Issue 3, May 2014 (502 kB)
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