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Te Mahere Kohinga Wai o Wharekahika-Waikura

Wharekahika-Waikura Catchment Plan

Gisborne District Council is preparing to develop a Wharekahika-Waikura, or Northern Catchment Plan as part of its implementation of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

The Wharekahika-Waikura Catchment Plan will also include Karakatuwhero, Awatere, Oruta and Waipapa catchments within the Gisborne region. The plan will set the regulatory and non-regulatory framework for water quality and quantity within the catchment and eventually sit within the Tairāwhiti Resource Management Plan.


This catchment planning process will start this year with the formation of the advisory group.

The catchment plans are scheduled to be ready for public notification by the end of 2026.

Development of the Wharekahika-Waikura Catchment Plan

  • Ensure the mauri and values of waterways are recognised, protected and enhanced.
  • Ensure the interests and rights of tangata whenua are reflected in the plan.
  • Ensure residents and stakeholders have opportunities to inform how water will be managed.
  • Provide clear direction for sustainable management of freshwater in the catchment.

Engagement with tangata whenua

Ngāti Porou is the main iwi in the Wharekahika-Waikura catchment area. Only two sub-catchments are not in this iwi’s rohe: Waikura and Whangaparaoa. Tikanga, matauranga, kaitakitanga and the aspirations of mana whenua are essential for designing the values, objectives, limits and activities in the catchment plan. These will be gained throughout the catchment planning process.

We will update this section once dates for tangata whenua engagement are finalised.

Wharekahika-Waikura advisory group

To ensure community engagement we'll be inviting members of the catchment community to form an advisory group.

The advisory group will help develop the catchment plan.

Advisory group members will need to commit to attending a series of monthly meetings. They will need to dedicate time to understand the water quality and quantity issues in the catchment and be willing to contribute to the plan.  People must be able to show a strong connection to the waterways within the catchments.  A range of community perspectives is key.

This plan will guide freshwater management by forming a values-based vision, with actions to achieve this vision, for all the waterways in the catchments.  It will set objectives and regulations to help us manage water quality and quantity.

Through the advisory group meetings we will:

  • Identify issues and values of waterbodies in the catchment
  • Map freshwater management units (FMU)
  • Formulate objectives
  • Set targets
  • Set limits for water quality and quantity
  • Outline non-regulatory projects that support achieving objectives and targets

We will update this section once dates for tangata whenua engagement are finalised.

Te Mahere Kohinga Wai o Wharekahika-Waikura / About the Wharekahika-Waikura catchment

The Wharekahika-Waikura catchment covers approximately 669km2 in area. The townships in this catchment are Pōtaka, Wharekahika (Hicks Bay), and Te Araroa. The catchment includes:

  • Waikura catchment
  • Whangaparaoa catchment
  • Wharekahika catchment
  • Karakatuwhero catchment
  • Awatere catchment
  • Orutua catchment
  • Waipapa catchment
  • Several small catchments along the coastal margin: between Wharekahika and Karakatuwhero catchments, between Awatere and Orutua catchments, between Orutua and Waipapa catchments, and the eastern coast of the Waipapa catchment.

The Wharekahika catchment is the most northern catchment in the Gisborne District has its headwaters bounding the Bay of Plenty region. It discharges into Hick’s Bay from a catchment area of 148 km2.

Land cover in the Wharekahika catchment is mainly indigenous scrub and forest with some extensive farming near the mouth and limited areas of exotic pine forest.

Native fish species that inhabit the Wharekahika are a key value and water quality is generally maintained due to a lack of erosion prone soils in the catchment and the minimal modification that has taken place from intensive landuse. Native fish in the Wharekahika have been ranked as nationally significant by a River values assessment project (RIVAS)

The Wharekahika has a permanent monitoring site near the Wharf road bridge approximately 1km inland from the river mouth. Data has been collected from this location six times per year and information is available from 1995.

The Awatere river has a catchment area of 172 km2. Tributaries include the Kopuapounamu and the Tauraungakautuka rivers. More than half the catchment is in either indigenous or exotic forest cover.

Several operators extract shingle for roading from the Awatere and its tributaries.

Native fish species in the Awatere catchment are found in good numbers and native fish have been assessed as bieing of national significance by a River Values Assessment project (RIVAS).

Water quality in the Awatere has been monitored since 2003 with some, less reliable information available for the period from 1973-1983.

Karakatuwhero river flows from the northern tip of the Raukumara ranges into the bay at Te Araroa East Cape. The catchment size is not large with an area of 78 km2. Tributaries cover areas of ancient basalt rock formations that are steep and provide a supply of hard boulders that drop into the river and tributaries, providing habitat for a good range of native fish . Hochstetters frog populations are found within the catchment.

Good quality shingle is extracted from the Karakatuwhero, providing a valuable resource for East Cape roads. Land cover is predominantly indigenous.

Map of the Wharekahika-Waikura (Northern) Catchment

Northern Catchment

How to get involved

We'll be asking for expressions of interest in the advisory group later this year, but in the meantime you can:

  • Check for any open engagements - kōrero mai via our engagement portal
  • Ask us a question - email the team at trmp@gdc.govt.nz
  • Sign up for Council News | He Pānuiusing this form.