Whakamana Te Waituna

Partnerships – With Descriptor

About the project

Since 2017, Living Water’s work in Waituna has been delivered through Whakamana te Waituna, a five-year, multi-partner project aimed at improving the health of Waituna Lagoon in Southland. The partners are Department of Conservation, Fonterra, Environment Southland, Southland District Council, Ngāi Tahu and Awarua Rūnanga.

The objectives of the Project are to:

  • Increase/improve access to land that enables Ngāi Tahu to exercise kaitiakitanga over their taonga species within the Waituna catchment and lagoon
  • Establish a hydrological regime for a healthy lagoon, with recreational access, that provides adjoining landowners with certainty
  • Increase the area of land managed for biodiversity and ecosystem function accessible for mahinga kai and recreational uses surrounding the Waituna Catchment and Lagoon (by at least 300 ha)
  • Implement a contaminant intervention plan to reduce the rate of sediment and nutrient losses originating from on-farm and off-farm activities

Living Water is leading the contaminant/sediment reduction work, the lower Waituna Creek transformation project, and biodiversity and pest control.


  • Significant reduction in nutrient and sediment loads entering Waituna Lagoon
  • Improved freshwater ecosystems
  • Greater lowland ecological resilience
  • Working in partnership


  • Whakamana Te Waituna project concept approved in April 2017
  • $12m secured for the five year project including $5m from the government’s Freshwater Improvement Fund and $7m funded by the Waituna Partners (Environment Southland, Ngai Tahu, Southland District Council, DOC and Living Water).
  • High level project planning completed by the end of 2017
  • Detailed work plans developed and being implemented
  • A biodiversity/pest control programme for Waituna lagoon and catchment is underway
  • Phase 1 of the Waituna Creek restoration project has been completed (read the story here)
  • Farm Environmental Plans are being developed for Fonterra dairy farms throughout the catchment
  • A catchment intervention plan has been developed that outlines a pathway for wholesale contaminant reduction from the catchment
  • Peak runoff control structures have been built and a monitoring programme is in place to assess their ability to trap sediment and reduce contaminant loss
  • Phase 1 of the landward buffer project has been completed (560 ha of land have been purchased):
    409 ha of land have been purchased to establish the Mahinga Kai Pā
    151 ha of low-lying land have been purchased to minimise potential flooding of farmland if the lagoon level is raised

News updates

  • Farm wetland installed by Living Water - pics
  • Whakamana te Waituna meets with residents - news article
  • Strategic wetland returned to iwi ownership - Ngai Tahu story here
  • Awarua Rūnanga and Department of Conservation have jointly applied for a new resource consent to manage the opening of Waituna Lagoon to the sea - news article
  • Native fish respond positively to installation of instream habitat structures - Southland Express article 
  • Giant kōkopu found in lower Waituna Creek for the first time in seven years of surveying - article 
Cain Duncan

Cain Duncan

Otago/Southland Sustainable Dairying Manager for Fonterra

It's a truly significant partnership not only for our region, but in terms of it's potential for similar partnerships across the country.

Cain Duncan
Pat Hoffmann

Pat Hoffmann

DOC Site Lead, Waituna, Southland

I’m excited about the tools and catchment interventions being trialed in this project. There is massive potential for learning and change to achieve a more resilient environment while also meeting the community’s aspirations

Pat Hoffmann
Nicki Atkinson

Nicki Atkinson

Impact & Partnerships Manager

The Waituna lagoon is one of New Zealand's most at risk natural waterways. It will take combined efforts to ensure it's in balance with the neighbouring productive land.

Nicki Atkinson
Jono Streat in his office


Completed March 2017

Progress: 100%


Completed by December 2017

Progress: 100%


Started in early 2018 and due to end mid 2022

Progress: 65%

Courtney in meeting