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Hawke's Bay region

River Quality

Hawke’s Bay has a wide variety of river types, from lowland coastal rivers and spring-fed lowland and upland streams to sub-alpine-fed rivers.

The eight main river catchments in Hawke’s Bay (from the north) are – Wairoa, Mohaka, Esk, Tutaekuri, Ngaruroro, Tukituki, Maraetotara/Waimarama and Porangahau. 

There are also several lakes in Hawke’s Bay – Waikaremoana and Waikareiti in Te Urewera National Park, the Kaweka Lakes in the Kaweka Forest Park, Lake Tūtira, Whakakī Lake and many smaller lakes throughout the region.

The predominant economic activity of the region is agriculture. This is mostly intensive sheep and beef farming along with viticulture, market gardens, orchards, and horticultural cash crops, plus the service industries that support these, including food processing.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is working with iwi, local councils and community groups to restore and enhance urban streams for drainage and flood protection, biodiversity and amenity assets. The Karamu Stream is a current focus and the first suburban enhancement in partnership with Napier City Council has been completed on the Harakeke Waterway.  Farmers, schools and community groups are also involved in projects such as the Maraetotara River restoration.

HBRC has also worked in collaboration with local communities, DOC, Fish and Game, and landowners to restore some of the regions priority wetlands. Work has been undertaken in the- Whakaki, Waitangi, Horseshoe, Tukituki and Pekapeka Wetlands. As a part of the restoration works in Waitangi, whitebait spawning areas have been enhanced to provide a better habitat for the species.

The water quality in the Hawke’s Bay rivers is generally good. A small number of rivers are showing a decline in water quality and the reasons for those declining trends are being investigated by HBRC.  HBRC is currently reviewing the Regional Resource Management Plan by catchment to put in place practical actions and policies specific to each catchment to arrest that trend.

Contaminants of particular concern are nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous), sediments and faecal coliform bacteria. The main causes for these contaminants are diffuse runoff associated with land-use, municipal wastewater treatment works and landuse intensification. Key catchments in current focus are the Tukituki, the greater Heretaunga Plains (Tutaekuri, Ahuriri, Ngaruroro and Karamu catchments), Taharua-Mohaka, and Tūtira.