Ngā Roto Tapokapoka – Dune Lakes Restoration

The purpose of this project starts the long-term restoration, enhancement and protection of prioritised Te Hiku o Te Ika dune lakes/wetlands; Lake Bullrush (Te Kao) in the rohe of Te Aupōuri, Waiparera Wetland (Waiharara) and Split lake which is on the Sweetwater block in the rohe of Ngāi Takoto.

The dune lakes and wetlands of Te Hiku o Te Ika are unique, of regional, national and international ecological significance and are a key part of our environmental strategy for the district.

While they are a key feature of the landscape they are in a dismal state requiring urgent attention. Remedial work planned for the next two years includes riparian fencing, planting buffer zones, pest control, weed eradication/control and built- in monitoring to track changes over time


The histories of alienation, changed ownership, drainage and environmental modification undertaken for development, exotic forestry, pastoral farming, and exploitative, detrimental land-use practices have produced long-term damage. The once rich, diverse, productive ecosystems, are now riddled with major negative biophysical, cultural, economic and social consequences.

The ecological integrity of entire catchment is compromised; water flows have been radically changed, environmental niches altered, diversity downgraded, species of high cultural value depleted and in some instances lost. Kaitiakitanga practices based on deep local knowledge have been eroded, māhinga kai damaged and food production harmed, undermining the economic, cultural and spiritual self-sufficiency of Te Hiku communities.

The two year project was part of a much broader plan being developed to improve the Te Hiku environment. It was the first phase of a long term restoration plan for all the Te Hiku lakes (approximately 50). The project builds on the respective iwi mana whenua vision for, employment creation and sustainable community-led flora and fauna restoration activities that will improve water quality and environmental integrity alongside strengthening iwi cultural connections with this environment.

The work involves an innovative long term employment strategy, underpinned with an educational training and qualifications component, (tertiary / university levels) and is a catalyst for other environmental enhancement and development opportunities across Te Hiku Iwi, a vehicle to increase Te Hiku capacity and capability in the environmental arena. This alongside other environmental initiatives will strengthen tribal identities and kaitiakitanga responsibilities over our natural resources in the post-settlement era.

Supported By:

Reconnecting Northland Ministry for Environment (MfE) Te Puni Kokiri Te Mana O Te Wai Fund Te Hiku o Te Ika Development Trust In kind support by: Northtec Te Aho Tū Roa Department of Conservation Bushlands Trust Northland Regional Council Whariki research group.

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