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Waituna Creek

The Waituna Creek is a small, but intensively farmed catchment in Southland. It flows into the Waituna Lagoon, which comprising an area of 20,000 hectares. The Waituna Lagoon lies at the bottom of the Waituna and Carran creeks, and is one of the best remaining examples of a natural coastal lagoon in New Zealand.

Long known for its diverse ecological characteristics and cultural values, the catchment is part of the internationally recognised Awarua Wetlands, which became a Ramsar site of international importance in 1976. The lagoon and its margins were recognised nationally as an important area by gaining Scientific Reserve status in 1983. The cultural significance to the local Ngāi Tahu people was recognised under a Statutory Acknowledgement with the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998.

Environment Southland is part of a multi-agency response to address the decline in water quality and to prevent the lagoon from reaching a degraded state. Interested parties involved in this process include the local farmers and residents, several community groups, the Department of Conservation, iwi, the Southland District Council, DairyNZ, Fonterra, Federated Farmers, Beef and Lamb NZ, Fish and Game Southland, and Forest and Bird.

The upper part of the catchment consists primarily of brown soils, which have relatively high yields of nitrate per hectare. The lower catchment is dominated by high organic content peat type soils, which have a relatively high yield of phosphorus per hectare.

Sites 3

Monitored sites in the Waituna Creek catchment

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