Waingake bush banner image

Te Ara Whakahou o Waingake

Waingake transformation programme

Waingake transformation programme aims to restore the vital bushland at Waingake. In a partnership with mana whenua, Maraetaha Incorporated and Ngai Tāmanuhiri, we will return 1,100 hectares of pine plantation back to indigenous forest.

Our goal is to regenerate the environmental heritage of our home, while also ensuring the protection and resilience of Tairāwhiti’s water.

Tairāwhiti has experienced massive historic losses of ecosystems and biodiversity. Just 7% of the Tairāwhiti district is classified as native bush today.

The Waingake block currently consists of around 1,100ha of commercial pine forestry and 500ha of native vegetation in various stages of regeneration and maturity.

Staged harvest of the pine plantation began in 2018, with the last trees likely to be harvested by 2027.

As harvest progresses, there will be a number of risks to our water supply infrastructure. Establishing vegetation cover to help stabilise the land and minimise these risks is critical. Steeper and less stable land, along with land  in close proximity to the water pipeline will be prioritised for native planting.

This planting will deliver natural infrastructure to protect, filter and supply clean water to Tairāwhiti, helping to provide water security, resilience and adaptation to climate change for the region.

Not only will we restore native biodiversity, but in building on the valued partnership with mana whenua and creating employment opportunities for local people.

Waingake dams
Clapcott and Williams dams at Waingake. Photo credit Dr Adams Forbes


Gisborne District Council purchased the land at Waingake in 1991 from iwi and entered into a joint forestry agreement to establish a plantation pine forest.

Since then, the land has been used as a commercial pine plantation, which at the time was believed to provide protection for the city's water pipeline and income for Council.

The trees are now reaching maturity and are in the process of being harvested.

Establishing permanent indigenous cover in these catchments and removing pests will help reduce sediment, lifting water quality, restoring mauri and upholding Te Mana o Te Wai.

Waingake planting
Planting manuka to restore indigenous bush

To revitalise our natural environment

One million native trees will be planted; combined with planting, weed control, and pest control to aid in the protection of highly erodible land and to revitalise the natural environment.

  • The regenerating forest ecosystem will be contiguous with the Waingake waterworks bush – the largest and most significant remnant of coastal lowland forest in our region, and home to several rare and threatened flora and fauna.
  • Our native species that will benefit from this programme include long-tailed bats, North Island rifleman, New Zealand falcon, hebe tairawhiti, and 2 species of mistletoe (Peraxilla tetrapetala and Tupeia antarctica).
  • The opportunity for this programme to increase protection for the diverse range of flora and fauna within Waingake Waterworks Bush aligns with the vision and outcomes of Te Mana o Te Taiao.
  • Primarily operating in the headwaters of Te Arai, Mangapoike and Nuhaka.
Waingake bush
Waingake waterworks bush

Waingake waterworks bush

The restoration of the Waingake area will provide a natural protection and security for our city's water supply ensuring it flows clean and plentiful to Tairāwhiti and provide ongoing economic benefits.

  • The natural infrastructure will protect, filter and supply clean water to Tairāwhiti.
  • As harvest of the last pine trees is completed, it's critical that native vegetation is established to cover and stabilise land around the water pipeline.

A significant amount of funding for the programme is coming from external funding sources which will contribute positively to our community’s economy by minimising costs to ratepayers.

Background to the transformation programme

For information on the history of the Waingake Transformation Programme see the following decisions and updates to Council:

  • 28 June 2018 Report 18-230 - Protection of the Waingake Water Supply Pipeline.
  • 27 September 2018 workshop Report 18-388 to the Future Tairāwhiti Committee with the public excluded - Future Management of Pamoa Forest Block.
  • 13 December 2018 Report 18-457 with the public excluded - Preferred Direction on Long Term Future of Pamoa Forest.
  • 31 January 2019 Report 19-024 to extraordinary Council - Councillor Notice of Motion re Pamoa Alternatives.
  • 19 December 2019 Report 19-404 to Council for information - Long Term Future of Pamoa Forest. Particularly to provide further financial information requested at the January 2019 meeting.
  • 20 February 2020 Operations Committee Report 20-20 - Establishment of Pamoa Forest Restoration subcommittee and appointed Crs Dunn, Wharehinga, Worsnop and Dowsing to the subcommittee.
  • 27 May 2020 Finance & Performance Committee Report 20-125 - Pamoa Implementation Plan - 2020/21, seeking approval of budget for years 1 and 2 of the native restoration project.
  • 12 November 2020 Operations Committee Report 20-345 – Waingake Transformation Programme Update.
  • 18 February 2021 Operations Committee Report 21-30 – Waingake Transformation Programme Update.

What the programme is costing

The programme budget has been reforecast for the 2021–2031 Long Term Plan (LTP) using actual costs and revised income based on anticipated external funding.

The programme budget has been reforecast for the 2021–2031 LTP using actual costs and revised income based on anticipated external funding. We would complete this work as planned with the budget we’ve forecast of $17.9m over the next ten years. With this option we stay within our debt limit. Another $9.4m will be needed from 2032 - 2052.

We expect to receive a significant level of external funding for the programme over this LTP cycle. We also expect to receive ongoing income from the second rotation commercial forest, and from other commercial opportunities which will be developed in year one of the LTP.