Skip to main content Skip to footer
Waihi Estuary Waihi Estuary

Waihi Estuary Catchment

We’re working with local landowners, Iwi/hapu, central government, industry and community groups to stop declining estuary health and restore water quality in the Waihī Estuary and the sub-catchments that drain into it.

The Waihī Estuary is a natural taonga (treasure) located between Maketū and Pukehina. In recent decades it has degraded as increasing amounts of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous), sediment, and faecal bacteria have been washed into the estuary from surrounding land and contributing waterways.

Land drainage, development and land-use intensification since the early 1900s have all contributed to a gradual decline in estuary health. This has revealed itself more visibly in recent years through:

  • Loss of sea grass and excessive algae growth. This is making the estuary less suitable for birds and fish to live, breed and feed in.
  • Unsafe levels of bacteria in shellfish and a 2018 cyanobacteria (potentially toxic algae) bloom, prompting public health warnings.
  • Declining water quality including an increase in oxidised nitrogen which promotes algae growth.
  • Less abundance and variety of shellfish, crabs and worms (benthic macrofauna) living in the estuary bed.

Regional Council scientists estimate that the current amount of nutrients and bacteria entering the estuary will need to reduce by 30–60 percent if we are to stop this decline in estuary health.

It will take investment, co-operation and compromise from all sectors of the community to achieve that reduction target, and to restore estuary health so it can once again sustain people and wildlife as it has for generations past.

Regional Council is working collaboratively with tangata whenua, industry groups and other relevant stakeholders in the catchment to deliver environmental programmes that are focused on improving the quality of the water that is entering the estuary.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council has committed funds in the 2022/2023 financial year as part of the Focus Catchments programme to assist landowners in the catchment. The funds will help with environmental projects such as riparian planting, retirement of steep sidelings, pest plant and animal control, and wetland restoration and creation.

Funding has also been allocated to the Waihī Estuary under the Long Term Plan (LTP) for larger scale mitigation projects over the next ten years, which are currently being investigated to see if they are possible solutions. Consultation with relevant stakeholders and iwi/hapū representatives will take place through this process.

Landowners can take action now. Regional Council offers practical advice and funding subsidies to help landowners complete works that can improve water quality as well as land and business productivity.

Funded works can include fencing, planting, nutrient budgeting, farm planning, detention bunds, treatment wetlands and many other activities. 

Flooded lowlands in the Waihī Estuary catchment after Cyclone Debbie, April 2017.

Find out more

If you have questions, or would like to get involved, please contact our local Land Management Officer Daniel Kenna on 027 422 9656 or daniel.kenna


Focus Catchments Water Quality 2020, Te Kounga Wai O Ngā  Kurawai E Arotahia Ana

Project updates

3 YEARS AGO Jobs for Nature funding for Waihī Estuary

The Waihī Estuary Catchment project has been named as one of the projects to be funded through Government’s $20m investment in catchment restoration projects.

The funding will be a huge boost for community-led work improve local estuary and waterway health.

Read more here.