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Managing Waituna into the Future

Media Release

5 August 2013

Managing Waituna into the Future

The organisations with statutory roles in the care and management of the Waituna Lagoon and catchment are formalising their commitment to work together as partners for the ongoing improvement of its health and wellbeing.

The Waituna Lagoon is part of the 20,000ha Awarua Wetland, a designated Ramsar Wetland of International Importance and is one of the best remaining examples of a natural coastal lagoon in New Zealand. It is culturally significant to the local Ngāi Tahu people, which was acknowledged under the Ngāi Tahu claims Settlement Act 1998.

In recognition of the importance of this very unique natural resource, the Department of Conservation (DOC), Environment Southland (ES), the Southland District Council (SDC), Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and Te Rūnanga o Awarua have formally come together to work alongside the community and other stakeholders for the long-term benefit of Waituna Lagoon, its catchment and community.

Concern was raised in February 2011 about the poor health of the lagoon. Monitoring information from ES and DOC, drawn together for the Report on the State of Southland’s Freshwater Environment, showed that it was at risk of flipping into an algae-dominated state.

A multi-pronged emergency response was initiated that included actions by the local community, statutory organisations, industry, and agencies. Remedial practices were put in place, further scientific investigations were undertaken and communication channels were established for the sharing of information.

While flipping remains a potential risk, the focus is now a long-term one to improve the health and wellbeing of the Waituna Lagoon, its catchment and community. The formalising of the statutory partners’ group is a strong, future-focused commitment ensuring that their actions are aligned and complementary, and that they are working together in the most effective way possible.

Setting and achieving goals for the Waituna Lagoon and its catchment will require considerable effort over a number of years. An organised structure to guide efforts allows for a comprehensive and coordinated approach that is designed to achieve greater improvements than if organisations worked separately and avoids duplication of effort. Working in partnership with the local farmers, the community and industry will be crucial to the future success of the project.

To recognise the establishment of this formal arrangement, a ceremony will take place on Thursday, 8 August at the Te Rau Aroha Marae in Bluff, where the terms of reference to guide the on-going relationship between the partners of the Waituna Partners Group will be officially signed.

ENDS wellbeing of the people, of the waters


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