Waituna Lagoon

Waituna Lagoon

About the area

Waituna Lagoon is 40km east of Invercargill and is part of the 20,000 hectare Awarua Waituna Wetland catchment. This coastal lagoon and surrounding wetland (an area of 3,500 hectares) was designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in 1976. The cultural significance to the local Ngāi Tahu people was recognised under a Statutory Acknowledgement with the Ngāi Tahu claims Settlement Act 1998. The lagoon and wetland have also been a source of food and recreation for the wider community including fishermen, hunters and trampers over many generations.

The wetlands provide habitats for a rich array of native wildlife and are a nationally important site for migrating wading birds. They are also home to a range of threatened species such as the Australasian bittern and are an important area for mahinga kai.

The challenge

In Awarua Waituna there has been a significant loss of wetland, freshwater ecosystems and lowland habitat. Water quality is poor due to high levels of suspended sediment and nutrients (phosphorous and nitrogen). Much of this has been caused by various productive land uses in the catchment and the modification of the waterway, wetland and lagoon hydrology for drainage purposes.

Living Water’s key focus is designing and implementing a catchment-wide nutrient and sediment management approach, with the main goal of slowing the flow of water to decrease contaminants and build freshwater habitat.

  • 70% converted from wetland and native bush to agricultural land over the past 150 years
  • 80+ different species of bird in the wetland complex
  • 130 properties in the catchment
  • 5 main types of farming (arable, forestry, sheep, beef and dairy)
  • 2000+ 'angler days' per year
Peat lakes within the Waituna lagoon

Waituna catchment

Long-term goals

50% increase in on-farm freshwater habitat

50% nutrient reduction

20% increase in wetlands on farm

100% Fonterra farmers engaged

100% landowners engaged

Waituna peat lake

Our team

Jane Bowen

Jane Bowen

DOC Living Water Site Lead
Cain Duncan

Cain Duncan

Fonterra Sustainable Dairying Advisor
Nicki Atkinson

Nicki Atkinson

DOC Freshwater Technical Advisor
Sarah Yarrow

Sarah Yarrow

Living Water Programme Lead (South Island)
Tony Preston

Tony Preston

DOC Operations Manager
Aaron Fleming

Aaron Fleming

DOC Operations Director, Southern South Island
Mark Robinson

Mark Robinson

Fonterra, Head of Farm Source (Southland/Otago)

Our farmers

Reza and Sylvia Abdul-Jabbar

Reza and Sylvia Abdul-Jabbar

Fonterra Farmers
Monnc and Ruth Bruinsma

Monnc and Ruth Bruinsma

Raewyn and Tony Van Gool

Raewyn and Tony Van Gool

Fonterra Farmers
Are you part of Living Water?

Are you part of Living Water?

Contact us to have your farm acknowledged and your photo added

Our partners & friends

Jonathan Streat

Jonathan Streat

Environment Southland
Courtney Ellison

Courtney Ellison

Southland District Council
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

Te Runanga o Awarua

Te Runanga o Awarua

Michael Tither

Michael Tither

The Plant Store
Jade Parry

Jade Parry

The Plant Store
Brett Emeny

Brett Emeny

Fine Particle Application NZ
Chris Crossley

Chris Crossley

Agricultural Consultant

Our projects

Physiographics Project

Physiographics Project

Helping landowners to better understand where to put contaminant management interventions to improve water quality leaving farms.

Supporting documents