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Whakatane-Tauranga Rivers Scheme

The Whakatane-Tauranga Rivers Scheme comprises two main catchments - the 77km Tauranga (formerly Waimana) River with a 440 km2 catchment and the 112km Whakatane River with a 1100 km2 catchment. Both catchments are relatively narrow and the tributaries short, steep, and bush covered. The underlying rock foundation over the whole of the area is greywacke.

The Scheme includes substantial stop banking of the main river and some major tributaries, floodgates, gravity and pumped drainage outlets, and considerable channel edge (bank) protection and plantings. The scheme includes the Whakatane and Tauranga Rivers and the Te Rahu, Waioho and Wairere tributaries.

Whakatane-Tauranga Rivers Scheme Advisory Group


Membership of the Rivers Scheme Advisory Groups is representative of the different interests and locations within the scheme areas. The groups are designed to share knowledge and views on scheme management matters on behalf of local scheme ratepayers. The groups’ advice on community values, objectives and possible solutions will help us make the best decisions for our river scheme projects, capital works, maintenance programmes and flood repairs.

More information on membership and the role of the advisory group can be found in the Terms of Reference.

Member Name  Area Representing   
 Tom Pyatt  Whakatane urban (v)  
 Boots McNaught  Whakatane urban (v)  
 Geoff Mercer  Whakatane urban (v)  
 Scottie McLeod  Rangitaiki Plains (v)  
 Brian Power  Rangitaiki Plains (v)  
 Fraser McGougan  Middle catchment - Whakatane River upstream of Peketahi Bridge (v)  
 Bernie Clark  Middle catchment - Tauranga River (v)  
 Councillor Andrew Iles  Whakatane District Council elected representative (nv)  
 Jim Finlay  Whakatane District Council staff technical representative (nv)  
  v = voting representative   nv = non-voting representative  


Advisory group meetings are held twice a year, usually in March and September, and are chaired by elected Bay of Plenty Regional Councillors. The Whakatane-Tauranga Rivers Scheme meetings are chaired by Councillor Norm Brunning with Councillor Bill Clark as deputy chair.

Date Agenda Meeting Notes
 19 September 2018  Agenda - 19 September 2018   (132KB, pdf)  
 16 February 2018  Agenda - 16 February 2018   (82KB, pdf) Draft meeting notes - 16 February 2018   (1MB,pdf)
 14 November 2017  Agenda - 14 November 2017   (79KB, pdf)   Meeting notes - 14 November 2017   (246KB, pdf) 

Catchment overview

Tauranga River catchment

The Tauranga River is 77km long with a catchment area of 440 km2.

The Tauranga River valley floor is narrow and has few areas of river flats in the upper 48km, but after leaving the main range the floor widens and for the next 19.5 km the river channel is wide and braided.

The final 13km of the Tauranga River are through a gorge with the exception of the last 1.6km where it empties on to the valley floor just upstream of the confluence with the Whakatane River.

Whakatane River catchment

The Whakatane River is 112km long with a catchment area of 1100 km2.

The Whakatane River rises in the Huiarau Range and quickly drops into a deeply incised valley and there are no significant river flats for the next 64 km until the river flows out of the main range at the upper Ruatoki Valley. At this point the valley floor widens out to an average width of 11600 metres before widening out again at the limeworks.

Below this for the next 6.5 km the river has developed a wide meander belt with considerable areas of shingle bed and marginal river flats.

Below the Ruatoki Bridge which is 26.6 km upstream of the sea, the river is generally more confined due to the establishment of willow edge protection until it reaches the confluence with the Waimana. From there it continues for another 3.5 km before it reaches the Pekatahi Bridge and below this the river is stop banked.

Scheme overview

The Whakatane River Scheme is a river and drainage scheme that includes: substantial stop banking of the main river and some major tributaries, floodgates, gravity and pumped drainage outlets, and considerable channel edge (bank) protection and plantings. The scheme includes the Whakatane and Waimana Rivers and the Te Rahu, Waioho and Wairere Tributaries.

The aim of the original scheme was to provide 100 year flood protection along the lower 12.8 km of the river, partial flood protection and channel improvements along the upper 30.4 km of the Whakatane River and 28.8 km of the Waimana River, and improved drainage for approximately 4000-6000 hectares of the Eastern Rangitaiki Plains.

Previous to the scheme extensive flooding was a common event for the low lying areas generally north of the Awakeri-Taneatua railway line, from western drain in the west to Waioho Stream and up the Whakatane River valley. Whakatane Borough was subject to flooding on the western side, and indeed was unable to be developed for housing until after the construction of the nearby stopbanks and channel control works.

Scheme construction commenced in 1965 and was completed in 1981. A scheme review of the lower Whakatane River protection works was undertaken in 1985 following the availability of further hydrologic and  hydraulic data. This resulted in some further works which were completed in 1993.

An analysis of flow records for the period 1957-94 shows that the one in one hundred year flood for Whakatane River as measured at the Valley Road recorded, is 2460 cumecs (cubic metres per second). The mean flow of the fiver for 1957-95, at Valley Road, is 57 cumecs. (Surman 1995).

Subsequently the council adopted a three year programme of works which began in 1994/95. That programme includes clearing, training groynes, layering, trenched willows, planting and fencing to return the rivers to a stable meander pattern in terms of width and alignment. Once the plantings and protection works are established, the reaches will be established, reducing repair works currently necessary after most floods.

Maintenance of the scheme is funded by way of a rate struck over the area of benefit. A "classification" (Circa 1969) establishes the relative benefits received by all the lands within the scheme. Bay of Plenty Regional Council reviewed the classification during 1993 and found it remained fair and equitable. Rates for any property are calculated on the basis of land value and benefit classification of that property.

The areas receiving benefits from the scheme amounts to approximately 19,400 hectares and as at 31 January 1996 this area had a land value of about $550 million, and a capital value of about $1,233 million.

Scheme maps

Whakatane-Tauranga Rivers Scheme Rating Area Map - index sheet (5MB, pdf)