We’re working together with local landowners, Iwi, central government, industry and community groups to halt declining estuary health and restore water quality in the Waihī Estuary and the Kaikokopu, Pongakawa, Wharere and Pukehina catchments that drain into it.


Located between Maketu and Pukehina, the Waihī Estuary is a natural taonga (treasure) that has become degraded in recent decades 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 1900’s have all contributed to a gradual decline in estuary health that has revealed itself more visibly in recent years, through:

  • loss of sea grass and excessive algae growth – 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, and
  • 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 halt 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 restore estuary health so it can once again sustain people and wildlife as it has for generations past.

In 2019/20, together with NZ Landcare Trust, we brought together a group of local landowners, Iwi, industry, community group and government agency representatives and other stakeholders to discuss the situation. They decided to form a community steering committee that will develop and lead delivery of a catchment restoration plan to improve water quality and estuary health in the Waihī Estuary and its contributing waterways and catchments.

The Steering Group comprises 10 members, each representing a range of sectors of the Waihī Catchment community, including tangata whenua, farmers, growers, foresters, environmental care groups, Māori agribusiness, residents and ratepayers.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council has committed has committed funds in 2020, to help the steering committee to develop a comprehensive catchment restoration programme, in consultation with tangata whenua, affected landowners and the wider community.

Elva Conroy of Conroy and Donald Consultants Ltd is co-ordinating that work, which includes preparation of a catchment restoration strategy, sub-catchment action plans and application to the Ministry for Primary Industries Extension Programme for funding to deliver on the strategy and plans.

Community consultation is expected to begin in mid-late 2020.

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. We can also help landowners to access funding from the Te Uru Rākau One Billion Trees Programme.

Find out more

Follow this page to receive email updates as this project progresses. In the meantime, please contact us if you have question or would like to find out how you can get involved:

Thomas Grant, Bay of Plenty Regional Council Land Management Officer
Ph: 0800 884 881 extn 9434


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

cyclone Debbie - SH2 looking downstream NW down Kaikokopu
Flooded lowlands in the Waihī Estuary catchment after Cyclone Debbie, April 2017

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02 Jul 2020


Project Updates

8 months 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.

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