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Ūawa Catchment Plan

Gisborne District Council will be preparing to develop a Catchment Plan for the Ūawa catchment as part of its implementation of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020.

The Ūawa Catchment Plan will also include the Mangahauini and smaller adjacent coastal catchments within the Gisborne region. The plan will set the regulatory and non regulatory framework for water quality and quantity within the catchment that will eventually sit within the Tairāwhiti Resource Management Plan.


Preliminary engagement with Te Aitanga a Hauiti has been completed and the team is currently working to confirm an approach and work programme for 2024.

The catchment plans should be ready for public notification by the end of 2026.

Development of the Ūawa Catchment Plan will:

  • 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

Tikanga, mātauranga, kaitiakitanga and the aspirations of mana whenua are essential for designing the values, objectives, limits and activities in the catchment plan.

Community engagement

We'll hold community workshops with residents and whānau from the catchment communities. All meetings are open to everyone.

Through community engagement 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


Forestry slash in waterways have become a major concern in the Uawa catchment, exacerbated by significant storm events, latest being the Cyclone Gabrielle. Collapse of landings where logs are processed on steep slopes and slash from harvested forestry adjacent to waterways were mobilised into the rivers. The slash situation in this catchment is an example of forestry planted in the wrong place and with poor practice.


Clear felling of forestry on short-steep slopes adjacent to waterways increase the risk of sediment generation and delivery to the river, in addition to any slash remaining on the slopes.

About the Ūawa Catchment

The Ūawa covers a catchment area 536km2 near Tolaga Bay north of Gisborne. Landuse includes extensive sheep and cattle farming with significant areas that have recently changed (since the 1980’s) to more exotic forestry in a response to the level of erosion in the catchment.

Near the turn of the century widespread deforestation resulted in substantial erosion and gully slipping that peaked in the 1970s prior to major reforestation programmes.

Key tributaries include the Hikuwai and Mangatokerau. The Hikuwai is known for high flows in flood situation where the water level can quickly rise by more than 10m as measured by a telemetry site at Hikuwai bridge. Flow, rainfall and a range of water quality parameters are measured at Willow Flat and Hikuwai Bridge sites on the Hikuwai river.

Flat land in the Ūawa catchment, near Tolaga Bay has been developed for grapes and Kiwifruit. Irrigation for these crops has had to be piped several hundred meters to avoid the saline characteristic of the water in the Ūawa.

Uawa Catchment

How to get involved

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