Fledgling Hurunui-Waiau Zone Committee takes first look around the traps

The Hurunui-Waiau zone committee took to the road recently on a day’s field trip for an overview of the Hurunui and Waiau Rivers, the habitats they support and the issues they present.

The committee, formed under the Canterbury Water Management Strategy, went first to the Hurunui River mouth where Nukuroa Tirikatene and committee member Maka Rupene discussed the significance of the location for Tuahuriri. Committee member Tony Hawker also spoke of the importance of the area for salmon and trout, and the committee looked over the hapua (river-mouth lagoon). 

The group then drove to Cheviot for an explanation by Bruce Yates and Vince Daly of the Hurunui District Council on the Cheviot Water Network.

They were told the Cheviot main bore intake comprises three wells in an unconfined aquifer about 200m from Waiau River immediately below the Waiau Gorge.  The water is drawn from 13-15m below the surface.  Water quality issues with Cheviot’s water supply mean a permanent “boil water” notice has been in place for some time.

The group learned that water demand has increased steadily since the scheme was installed in 1970 from existing landowners taking extra water units to accommodate stocking rate increases, new consumers and some subdivisions.  However, growth has not yet outstripped the ability of the network to supply water, although some booster pumps and pipe sizes have been upsized.

A stop at the Leader River Bridge allowed the group to look at weed control in the river bed including removal of large willow trees.  Andrew Harris, the local landowner and a zone committee member, showed his colleagues just how quickly willows came back to form nearly impenetrable thickets if control was not kept up. 

The committee looked at the Waiau River in almost bank-to-bank flood flow on the day, from above Waiau township. Committee member Professor Ken Hughey explained the international significance of the braided river as a nesting habitat for black-fronted tern and black-billed gulls and its regional significance for banded dotterel and wrybill.

Making better use of water is important and on-farm water storage can be a key part of improving water management. 

Craig Rutherford, who farms at Morna Downs, showed the committee the on-farm storage he is currently constructing on his farm. When the storage reservoir is complete he will be able to extend the amount of land he irrigates with the water he pumps from the Waiau River.

The field trip finished with a drive to the Hope/Boyle river junction, with brief stops to show the general location of potential water storage sites and to familiarise the committee with key features of the river. 

Ian Whitehouse, facilitator with the Canterbury Water Executive of Environment Canterbury, who planned the field day, said it had given the committee a first hand view of their main areas of responsibility.

“The response from the committee members was very positive and all said they found it a very useful exercise and time well spent.”

The group will have another field trip in the near future, this one to the Lake Sumner outlet and to view potential water storage sites in the Waitohi River.

The committee meets every three weeks and its meetings are usually open to the public.  For more details including times, places and agendas, see the Canterbury Water website, www.canterburywater.org.nz

For more information:

David Eder, Chairman, Hurunui-Waiau Zone Committee on 021 327 873

Ian Whitehouse, Zone Facilitator on 027 500 1833



P1020861 and 1020863: Hurunui-Waiau Zone Committee members and advisors at the mouth of the Hurunui River.