More than $1.5 million is to be spent restoring and protecting water quality in more than 20 Northland lakes – including some of the region’s most ecologically outstanding dune lakes – over the next five years.
Collectively 24 dune lakes will be targeted via the Freshwater Improvement Fund (FIF) project. They include nine ecologically outstanding lakes (among a dozen the council has recently completed lake-specific management plans for) and another 15 dune lakes with special management needs.
Regional councillor Mike Finlayson says the joint funding will enable significant progress to be made in preserving the lakes, which he describes as unique aquatic habitats and taonga worthy of protection and special care.
“They are among the rarest and most threatened aquatic habitats in the world and it’s our duty to look after these precious gems.”
Herekino-based Cr Finlayson represents Te Hiku, the regional council’s most northerly constituency, which contains a number of the dune lakes involved.
“Dune lakes are home to a wide range of plants and animals, including rare freshwater fish.” “This new funding will enable us to step up work to make sure these lakes – and the species they support – are saved for future generations.”
Councillor Finlayson says lake management plans formed the basis for a successful bid for funding from the FIF (administered by the Ministry for the Environment) with matching contributions from the regional council; a combined total of $1.565M over the five years.
The regional council is engaging with eight mana whenua iwi groups to develop a joint engagement approach to deliver the FIF work, parts of which will include the incorporation of matauranga Maori (traditional knowledge) in future regional council environmental monitoring.
The project will also feed into the Enviroschools’ WaiRestoration projects and Te Aho Tu Roa education programmes, which will track the project’s progress.
Councillor Finlayson says the project includes control or eradication of water-weeds and pest fish, removal of grass carp (where these had been used for past weed management) sediment detention and fencing.
“There’s also a native plant aquaculture project which aims to remove nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon from the water.”
Councillor Finlayson says it’s hoped the work carried out and lessons learned over the next several years as part of the project will prove invaluable when the council turns its attention to other lake restoration projects in the future.
The nine ecologically outstanding lakes with management plans which will come under the FIF project are:
- Waihopo and Ngatu (Aupouri Peninsula)
- Waiporohita (Karikari Peninsula)
- Kai Iwi, Taharoa and Waikare (the three Kai Iwi lakes)
- Humuhumu, Rotokawau, Kanono (Pouto Peninsula).
The other 15 lakes covered under the FIF bid are:
- Kihona, Ngakeketo North, Ngakeketo South, Te Werahi Lagoon, Waiparera (Aupouri Peninsula)
- Lakes Midgley and Shag (near Kai Iwi Lakes)
- Rototuna, Swan and Waingata (Pouto Peninsula)
- Heather, Mini/Split, Ngakapua South, Rotoroa and Waimimiha North (Sweetwater area).
Councillor Finlayson says management plans for the ecologically outstanding lakes are available online at www.nrc.govt.nz/dunelakesproject (The full 12-strong list includes the three lakes outside the FIF project; Wahakari and Morehurehu (Aupouri Peninsula) and Mokeno (Pouto Peninsula).
Regional councillor Mike Finlayson, left, and Ihaka Korewha, of Te Runanga o Ngai Takoto’s dune lakes team, at Lake Ngatu. Roughly 16 km north of Kaitaia, Ngatu is one of the ecologically outstanding dune lakes to be targeted in a five-year, $1.5M-plus programme that aims to restore and protect water quality.