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Joint initiative for Te Roto o Wairewa / Lake Forsyth

8 February 2013

Joint initiative for Te Roto o Wairewa / Lake Forsyth

In a first between the Christchurch City Council and Ngāi Tahu, a joint consent application will be lodged to continue the opening of Te Roto o Wairewa / Lake Forsyth to restore the lake’s water quality and fishery and to avoid flooding.

The joint application seeks to replace previous consents for both the beach openings and the experimental groyne and canal opening that Wairewa rūnanga has been trialling for the past three years.

In effect the consent application proposes that the rūnanga canal outlet be principally used and that the mid-beach opening be available mainly for emergencies.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Tā Mark Solomon says the application is part of ongoing work by Wairewa and the Christchurch City Council to form a culturally- and environmentally-integrated management approach for the lake. “This is a terrific milestone to see the Papatipu Rūnanga and Council coming together like this to enhance the values of Te Roto o Wairewa. It speaks volumes about what can be achieved when a vision is shared.”

Mayor Bob Parker, having previously been involved in the project as Mayor of Banks Peninsula, says it is gratifying to be involved in a landmark joint consent process with the rūnanga.

“We want to continue to ensure that the destructive presence of cynotoxin algal blooms at the lake is a thing of the past, and the best approach to this is to work together with Papatipu Rūnanga to further the improved conditions that have occurred due to recent work by the rūnanga.”

Mayor Parker says the Council and rūnanga are collecting better information, including rainfall and lake level information, in order to improve ongoing management.

Project leader from Wairewa Rūnanga, Robin Wybrow, says a public meeting has been organised to allow local residents and anyone interested in the lake to ask questions and update themselves on the evolving management regime.

“Over recent years we have talked a lot with the local community. However, with the joint application about to be lodged, we wanted to provide another opportunity for people to update themselves,” he says. The meeting will be held in the Little River Rugby Club rooms from 7pm – 9pm on Wednesday 27 February.

“Speakers will talk about the current state of the lake, the existing consents and details of the new consents being applied for,” Mr Wybrow says.

“We are particularly proud that the groyne and canal opening has permitted better control over the lake levels and restricted the entry of seawater, contributing to lower salinity levels in the lake. For us the new management regime is proving its worth as an innovative way to enhance cultural tuna (eel) harvest, fish migration and overall water quality. This is the first step in realizing the future aspirations and vision for the Lake developed at our earlier consultation with the Rūnanga and the community. Built by man and driven by nature we aim to harness the solar and lunar cycles turning the lake from a liability to an asset for all Cantabrians.”

Wairewa Rūnanga began working with the local community and Banks Peninsula District Council in 2005 on ways to improve the water quality of Wairewa/Lake Forsyth. After community consultations, a Lake Charter was agreed upon for all involved to work on improving the condition of the lake. Since that time the rūnanga has experimented with an alternative lake mouth formed by a groyne and canal against the cliffs at the eastern end of the beach at Birdlings Flat. The groyne and canal were established under a (now expired) temporary consent held by the Wairewa Rūnanga. The new application seeks to replace this temporary consent and also the notified use consent formerly held by Banks Peninsula District Council which allows for managing lake levels by means of a mid-beach opening. The application will be lodged with ECan at the end of this month.


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