A work plan is underway to improve the wellbeing of the Utuhina stream in Rotorua. The environmental improvements are thanks to joint efforts by local community group Te Kōmiro o Te Utuhina, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, and Fish and Game New Zealand.
In 2013, a number of large rocks were removed from Te Utuhina as part of the expansion of Lake Road. Earlier this year Regional Council returned the rocks at the request of Te Kōmiro o Te Utuhina.
“We were happy to work with Te Kōmiro and Fish and Game to get the rocks re-positioned in the stream earlier this month. The rocks provide important habitat and hiding spots for trout and native fish,” said Bay of Plenty Regional Council Rotorua Catchments Manager Helen Creagh.
Future work has been scheduled to improve the surrounding environment including stop bank repairs and strengthening the bank adjacent to Te Kuirau Marae. This work will help keep the stream healthy and resilient to heavy rain and flooding.
Ms Creagh said that the stream bank strengthening will also help to reduce erosion risk so that less sediment can be washed into the stream and Lake Rotorua.
“We’re also working with Te Kōmiro o Te Utuhina, local iwi and landowners and our Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme Partners, Te Arawa Lakes Trust and Rotorua Lakes Council to reduce run-off and other sources of contaminants such as nitrogen and E.coli bacteria that are affecting lake water quality,” Ms Creagh said.
Te Kōmiro o Te Utuhina and Regional Council are planning a community planting day this spring along the side of the stream near Lake Road.
Greg Allen from Te Kōmiro o Te Utuhina said that it’s great to have the rocks returned to Te Utuhina and they’re excited to now be planning further works with help from Regional Council to restore water quality in their local awa (river).
“E.coli has made the awa unsafe to swim in, especially after heavy rain. It will be a joint effort to make the awa swimmable again and we’re working with Regional Council and Rotorua Lakes Council to identify what actions we should prioritise to make the biggest difference for Te Utuhina”.
“We realise this is a long term goal, and we’re willing to do what is needed to make it happen. It will be worth it to see Te Utuhina restored as it was generations before us,” Mr Allen said.
For further updates on future projects please visit the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme Facebook page.