Waingake Transformation Programme
We have a number of projects with significant biodiversity benefits that we’re looking to prioritise over the next 10 years. The most important of these is the restoration of Waingake (formerly known as Pamoa).
The Waingake Transformation Programme was established following Council’s decision in December 2018 to return 71% of the Pamoa forest to native vegetation cover as harvest of the existing pine forest progresses.
Through a partnership approach with mana whenua Maraetaha Incorporated and Ngai Tāmanuhiri, the programme aims to restore Waingake and the significant ecological values it contains, while improving the resilience of Gisborne city’s water supply.
The untreated water is treated at the Waingake water treatment plant. It then travels the 30km pipeline into Gisborne city’s water reticulation network, and delivered to household taps.
The programme is expected to achieve a range of benefits across cultural, environmental, economic and social wellbeing.
At the same time the programme 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.
The Waingake block currently consists of around 1100ha of commercial pine forestry and 500ha of native vegetation in various stages of regeneration and maturity.
Staged harvest of the plantation pine 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.
The combined restoration planting, weed control and pest control components of the programme will aid in the protection of highly erodible land in the headwaters of 3 significant catchments:
- Te Arai
Establishing permanent indigenous cover in these catchments and removing pest species provides an integrated approach to reducing sediment, lifting water quality, restoring mauri and upholding Te Mana o Te Wai.
It's widely recognised both internationally and nationally our biodiversity is reaching a crisis point.
Tairāwhiti is no exception, having lost key ecosystems and habitats from inland areas through to the coast. Just 7% of the Tairāwhiti district is classified as native bush.
The programme will ultimately result in the addition of a further 1100 ha of secondary native forest within the region.
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 such as long-tailed bats, North Island rifleman, NZ falcon, hebe tairawhiti, and 2 species of mistletoe (Peraxilla tetrapetala and Tupeia antarctica).
Waingake Waterworks Bush is a massive biodiversity asset for Tairāwhiti. 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.
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.
Long Term Plan (LTP) pre-engagement in September 2020, over 90% thought we should continue spending the same amount on biodiversity and restoration projects, or even increase investment.
Based on this feedback received, Council's proposing to spend the same amount on biodiversity in the next 10 years to continue improving our important work in the biodiversity area.
We could complete this work as planned with the budget we’ve forecast of $18m. With this option, we stay within our debt limit while reducing the effects of climate change.
Should the community choose the alternative option to spend more and do more it will allow us to do everything we’ve already planned to do, and include extra projects in our work programme.
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 $18m 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.
Notification of the decision by One Billion Trees for the Waingake Restoration planting was delayed at the end of 2020 due to ministerial changes.
The Ministry for Primary Industries fund advisor has indicated the project will be presented to ministers for final approval in March. Council and Maraetaha Inc have also submitted a joint funding application to the Department of Conservation’s ‘Kaimahi for Nature Fund’ for the Waingake Restoration pest and weed control. A decision is expected soon.