Portrait of Robin & Andy

Living Water & Selwyn District Council Partnership

Partnerships – With Descriptor

What is this project?

Selwyn District Council (SDC) manages the extensive drainage/waterway network in the Ararira-LII catchment. The waterways were constructed from the mid 1800’s to drain the large wetland adjoining Te Waihora.

One of the most significant remaining biodiversity hotspots on the Canterbury Plains is Tārerekautuku / Yarr’s Lagoon, a 77-hectare reserve in the heart of the Ararira catchment. The lagoon is a wetland remnant and a key biodiversity site. It provides habitat for many species of once common wetland plants as well as tuna/eels, bullies, inanga and introduced brown trout. Living Water has supported SDC, who own and manage the lagoon, to build capacity within the Council, control willow and other weeds at priority sites, support the development of a plan for the Lagoon and the sourcing of funding for wetland rehabilitation.

What’s been done?

Living Water signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and gave a grant to Selwyn District Council from 2016 to 2018 to co-fund a Biodiversity Coordinator role for Yarr’s Lagoon. Baseline environmental assessment work was completed to support the development of a Tārerekautuku / Yarr’s Lagoon Management Plan. Living Water advocated for the improvement of waterway management practices to accommodate ecological and cultural values. Willow control at key sites in the Lagoon has occurred regularly since 2016.

Selwyn District Council confirmed the Biodiversity Coordinator role as a full-time, permanent position from 2018. The Biodiversity Coordinator is working alongside the Living Water Ararira Site Lead to progress waterway restoration initiatives across the catchment.

A landowner wetland care group has been established to continue the ongoing management and restoration of Tārerekautuku / Yarr’s Lagoon with the aim that it becomes a wetland reserve valued by the community.

Investigating plants at Yarrs Lagoon

What’s has Living Water learnt?

Restoring wetlands (nature’s solution to drainage issues) should be the priority for addressing freshwater management and ecological restoration challenges. A management plan for the restoration of Tārerekautuku / Yarr’s Lagoon is in place, and being implemented by SDC.

Improving water quality involves changing people’s mindsets as much as how they use land, and successful change requires every landowner in a catchment working together in partnership with iwi, councils, and government. This partnership has built environmental capacity and capability in local government. Since the partnership began in 2016, there has been increased environmental management of the drainage and water network around the lagoon, including willow and weed control activities.

Aerial view of Yarrs Lagoon