Whakaora Te Waihora

26 August 2011

The restoration and rejuvenation of the mauri and ecosystem health of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere has been confirmed with the signing of Whakaora Te Waihora on Thursday 25 August 2011- a long-term relationship agreement and shared commitment between Environment Canterbury, Ngāi Tahu and Te Waihora Management Board.

The parties have also signed an interim co-governance agreement which establishes an enduring co-governance framework for the active management of Te Waihora and its catchment.

These agreements signal the start of a new approach to management of natural resources in the region, one which acknowledges and brings together the tikanga responsibilities of Ngāi Tahu and the statutory responsibilities of Environment Canterbury.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Mark Solomon said the agreement goes beyond the Settlement, continues the process of healing and enters a new age of collaboration.

“Te Waihora was once a considerable tribal resource known as Te Kete Ika o Rākaihautū – The Fish Basket of Rākaihautū, which has declined. It is going to take considerable time, effort and resource to restore and rejuvenate the many values of Te Waihora.”

“We know that shared efforts exponentially multiply impact. We are forging a courageous and innovative partnership that will ensure Te Waihora is fundamental to the shared future of all our mokopuna”.

Environment Canterbury Chair of Commissioners Dame Margaret Bazley said the agreement with Ngāi Tahu marked an important milestone in the life of Environment Canterbury.

“It is also significant for the region of Canterbury, and indeed New Zealand. We are forging a way in which iwi and regional government can work together for common goals”.

Dame Margaret said it was important everyone with an interest in the lake and catchment worked together. “This is the premise on which the Canterbury Water Management Strategy is based and it is only by bringing the whole community with us that this initiative will be successful.

“As well as being a nationally significant wetland, Te Waihora has outstanding significance for Ngāi Tahu, especially mahinga kai, the customary fishery and kaitiakitanga. These are values embedded in Ngāi Tahu culture. And so we must work closely with Te Rūnanga, central and local government, industry and the wider community.”

Background Information

What will the interim co-governance agreement achieve?
The interim co-governance agreement puts in place a framework within which Ngāi Tahu and Environment Canterbury will work towards the realisation of outcomes aimed at the restoration and rejuvenation of the values of the lake and catchment.

Over the coming months (by February 2012) they will build on this interim agreement by developing an enduring co-governance structure (by February 2012). The interim arrangement is informal and non-statutory and will has functions which include the following:

  • Development of a long-term co-governance agreement
  • Provision for the governance group (the Te Waihora Management Board* together with Environment Canterbury Commissioners) to provide input into decision-making on matters relating to the lake and its management (for example statutory plans, review of regional and Selwyn-Waihora Zone Implementation Plans, the appointment of hearing commissioners)
  • Oversight of the restoration programme (called Whakaora Te Waihora) which is part-funded by government
  • Provision for discussions with key stakeholders on the part they will play in the long term management of Te Waihora. The Selwyn District Council plays a pivotal role in the management of the physical resources of the lake and catchment and the parties will work closely with Selwyn District Council to ensure its special relationship is recognised and provided for appropriately in the new arrangements.

The signing of a co-governance agreement for the active management of Te Waihora is a specific goal contained in the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.

* The Te Waihora Management Board, an advisory body for Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, comprises representatives of the six Papatipu Rūnanga of mid Canterbury who have interests in Te Waihora. The Board’s composition is in recognition of whakapapa, kaitiaki roles and the flax-roots local knowledge of the Te Waihora environment held by the Board members and their respective Papatipu Rūnanga.

The Board is made up of eight members, three appointed by Te Taumutu Rūnanga and one member each from Te Ngāi Tūāhuriri, Wairewa, Koukourarata, Ōnuku Rūnanga and Te Hapū o Ngāti Wheke.

More protection and recognition…

The crown has also approved amendments to the National Water Conservation (Lake Ellesmere) Order (WCO) 1990 requested by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and the Department of Conservation (DOC) to take into account the high cultural and national significance of the lake.

The key changes include:

  • The words Te Waihora in front of Lake Ellesmere in the title of the Water Conservation Order and throughout the document, in line with current accepted practice.
  • Expanding the list of the lake’s “outstanding features” to include habitat for indigenous wetland vegetation and fish and significance in relation to tikanga Māori in respect of Ngāi Tahu history, mahinga kai and customary fisheries. (The 1990 Water Conservation Order only referred to wildlife habitat.)
  • Allowing additional lake openings at any level, primarily to aid eel migration, from April 1 to June 15.

Relationship and interim co-governance agreements