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Construction Begins On Infrastructure To Reinstate Lake Level Of Kimihia

Work is underway at Lake Kimihia, just north of Rahui-Pōkeka (Huntly), to reinstate the lake level and deliver on environmental and cultural improvements.

Lake Kimihia was reduced in size from 318 hectares to 44ha because of historic open cast mining and has been completely drying out over the recent summers, leading to the death of tuna (eels) and significant habitat loss.

The lake will be reinstated to the level that was set when a weir was constructed in 1990, but which has since failed. MS Civil Construction Limited has started construction of a bund and weir and installation of two culverts. The weir incorporates a pest fish barrier, which will reduce the movement of pest fish into the lake.

The project also supports the restoration of 9ha of wetland on adjoining farms, with 8 kilometres of fencing and the planting of 33,000 native plants.

The lake is a significant natural area of very high importance and value to Waikato-Tainui hapū, particularly Ngāti Naho, Ngāti Mahuta and Ngāti Whāwhākia. A cultural enhancement plan has been developed to identify cultural aspirations for the site, which will inform restoration activities.

Iwi and the local community have advocated strongly for the lake, the values it holds and the need for intervention for some years.

Integrated Catchment Committee chair (north) Stu Husband said it was fantastic to see this work being realised.

“The lake has been a concern to iwi and the community for some time. Basically, people really wanted to restore that feeling of pride in their waterway and this is a great step towards achieving that. The design of the bund and weir also took into account flooding concerns within the catchment, so there are multiple benefits to the project.”

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This project has been made a reality through a collaborative partnership between the council, Waikato-Tainui, Waahi Whanui, the Department of Conservation and local landowners, and $1.556 million in funding by the Government (as part of its economic response to COVID-19) and Waikato River Authority. Waikato Regional Council received $740,000 from the Ministry for the Environment’s Public Waterways and Ecosystems Restoration Fund as part of Jobs for Nature funding; $640,000 in IRG climate resilience funding Kānoa – Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit; and $176,000 from the Waikato River Authority.

This project aims to see Lake Kimihia become an open waterbody year-round and enhance surrounding wetlands, providing habitat for native fish species (tuna) and waterfowl.

To read more about this project go to waikatoregion.govt.nz/lake-kimihia-restoration.

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