Funding for Te Waihora restoration project celebrated

Jan 8, 2021

Te Taumutu Rūnanga and the Co-Governors of Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere, have welcomed the recent announcement that their application to the Ministry for the Environment’s Freshwater Improvement Fund for project funding had been successful.

Co-Governance Co-Chairs Liz Brown (Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Interim) and Jenny Hughey (Environment Canterbury) said that, over five years, the project will restore a whole catchment along Te Waikēkēwai/Waikēkēwai Stream on the south-western edge of the lake.

“Restoration of Waikekewai has been a long-term aspiration for Taumutu Rūnanga” said Taumutu Kaitiakitanga leader, Bridget Robilliard. “We created a long-term restoration plan in 2013 and each year have implemented focused restoration projects, including creating Ōrariki wetland near our marae, restoring the section of Waikekewai that flows through our properties, and installing an top-of-the-line, eco-friendly wastewater treatment system”.

“In recent years, the Whakaora Te Waihora programme (under Co-Governance) and Te Taumutu Rūnanga have worked in partnership to expand existing works via Whakaora Te Waikēkēwai. The new funding allows for significant expansion of this important project,” added the Co-Chairs.

Bridget Robilliard said the project would improve water quality, māhinga kai and biodiversity.

“This project will benefit the community, as it will complete the riparian planting of the whole stream, re-create a significant wetland on our land and deliver on-farm actions for all properties in the catchment,” Bridget Robilliard said. “We are looking forward to building on the relationships with landholders along the stream to work together to restore the catchment and support sustainable farming practices. By doing so we will share our principles of leading by example to embed our kaitiakitanga values”.

The amount of approved government funding was $2.16 million.  Total project costs will be $4.16 million over five years, with the remainder coming from Environment Canterbury and other contributors.

“The delivery of the project will be one of the first in the country not only co-designed but also co-managed by Rūnanga and local government,” the Co-Chairs concluded. “We very much look forward to its completion, helping significantly towards restoring the mauri of Te Waihora.”


Te Taumutu Rūnanga is one of the 18 Papatipu Rūnanga of Ngāi Tahu, with more than 23,000 members.

The Co-Governance partners are Environment Canterbury, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Selwyn District Council, Christchurch City Council, and the Department of Conservation. Their vision: “Co-Governance is the korowai of kaitiakitanga over Te Waihora and its catchment.

To be leaders providing direction for all those who have a role in, or responsibility for, restoring the mauri of Te Waihora while maintaining a prosperous land-based economy and thriving communities for current and future generations.”

The vision guiding the work of the Whakaora Te Waihora Joint Restoration Programme: “To restore and rejuvenate the mauri and ecosystem health of Te Waihora and its catchment.”