03 March 2016

The Nukuhou River is the focus of the latest video in a series published on environmental monitoring site LAWA (Land, Air, Water Aotearoa).

The three-minute video highlights the work landowners have done to protect and improve the river over the past several years. This work is part of a larger project involving the implementation of the Ōhiwa Harbour Strategy, a collaborative venture between Bay of Plenty Regional Council (BOPRC) the Whakatāne and Ōpōtiki District Councils and local iwi that aims to improve the harbour’s health and wellbeing and covers everything from water quality to recreation.

The Nukuhou River is the harbour’s biggest tributary. Most of its 100sq m catchment is in agriculture; it has 16 dairy farms, eight dry stock farms and some small operations, which puts a lot of combined pressure on the river’s water quality. To ease this pressure, landowners have fenced the river and most of its tributaries, planted thousands of trees, installed bridges and culverts for stock crossings, upgraded stock races to avoid run-off going directly into the streams and improved on-farm effluent management systems, among other things.

The regional council became involved about 15 years ago and has since supported the ongoing work by providing technical expertise and financial support at the landowners’ request. It is also working with farmers to identify ways to address nutrient leaching sources from animal urine and fertiliser use. 

“The work landowners have done has played a huge part in improving the river,” Council land management officer Tim Senior says. “It’s fantastic to have this opportunity to showcase their efforts through LAWA.”

It’s been a good few months for the Nukuhou River, with landowners’ work also recognised in the 2015 River Awards last November. The Morgan Foundation named it the Bay of Plenty’s most-improved river for the reduction of nitrogen levels in the water. Regional council chair Doug Leeder accepted the award on landowners’ behalf at a ceremony in Wellington.

The river of the month video series, an online initiative run by LAWA and funded by the Tindall Foundation, highlight the different ways waterways are being cared for by the community. For more information or to view the video visit www.lawa.org.nz.