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Nga Wai o Waiapu

Waiapu Catchment Plan

We are developing the Waiapu Catchment Plan with Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou (TRONPnui) as part of the implementation of the national policy statement for freshwater management. The joint development of the plan is enabled by the Joint Management Agreement.

The plan will also have input from the community and Ngati Porou whanau and hapu.

The Waiapu Catchment Plan will provide a long-term vision of how to manage freshwater and other natural resources. It will incorporate Matauranga Ngati Porou and western science to ensure integrated management of freshwater and other resources from the mountains to the sea.

  • give effect to Te Mana o te Wai and the Ngati Porou Joint Management Agreement
  • ensure the mauri and values of waterways are recognised, protected and enhanced
  • align with Ngati Porou and community values and aspirations
  • ensure residents and stakeholders have opportunities to inform how water will be managed
  • provide clear direction for sustainable management of freshwater in the catchment.

Te Mana o Te Wai is the concept that defines how all freshwater management decisions are made.

It refers to the fundamental importance of water and recognises that protecting the health of freshwater protects the health and well-being of the wider environment. It protects the mauri of the wai. Te Mana o Te Wai is about restoring and preserving the balance between the water, the wider environment, and the community by defining the following hierarchy that will be applied to all freshwater management decisions.

  1. The health and wellbeing of water bodies and freshwater ecosystems
  2. The health and needs of the people (such as drinking water)
  3. People and communities to provide for their social, economic and cultural wellbeing, now and into the future.

Community engagement

Through community engagement we'll discuss the issues and values of waterbodies in the catchment, freshwater management units (FMU), catchment objectives, environmental outcomes and targets and actions that support catchment objectives and targets.

Tangata whenua

We're working in partnership with TRONPnui to engage with Ngati Porou whanau, hapu, marae and landowners. TRONPnui will lead engagement with Ngati Porou whanau, hapu and landowners with our support.

Stakeholder engagement

Working with stakeholders is essential in the development of the plan. We've developed a questionnaire to help us understand thoughts on freshwater issues. Workshops will be held as the plan progresses and we gain further understanding of sector interests.


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

About the Waiapu Catchment

The Waiapu Catchment has an area of 1734 km2  making it the largest river catchment in the Ngati Porou Rohe and the second largest in the Tairāwhiti region.

Originating in the Raukumara Ranges, the Waiapu River begins at the confluence of the Mata and Tapuaeroa Rivers, just above the Rotokautuku Bridge at Ruatorea.

The river spans 26 kilometres through a system of river flats and flows to the coast at the ngutu awa (river mouth).

The Mata River is the largest tributary of the Waiapu and therefore the majority of the Waiapu Catchment is upstream of the Waiapu River in the Mata sub-catchment.

The Mata River catchment also consists of the following tributaries:

  • Waitahaia River
  • Waingakia Stream
  • Ihungia River
  • Makarika Stream
  • Aorangiwai Stream
  • Makatote Stream

Other tributaries that flow directly into the Waiapu River include:

  • Mangaoporo River
  • Poroporo River
  • Maraehara River

The coastal catchments adjacent to the Waiapu Catchment will also be included in the Waiapu Catchment Plan. This includes streams flowing directly to the sea from Whangaokena to Koutunui Head to align with the management arrangements in Nga Rohe Moana o Nga Hapu o Ngati Porou Act 2019.

Current state of the wai

  • Most water use in the catchment is for drinking water, swimming and stock water.
  • There are 2 consents to take water within the catchment and 2 expired consents to take geothermal water at Te Puia Springs.
  • There are many puna/springs, and many whanau source their domestic water from springs and awa as permitted takes.
  • There is a large amount of gravel extracted from a range of rivers in the catchment, but particularly from the Mata, Waiapu
    and Tapuaeroa Rivers.
  • As of February 2020, rates of consented gravel extraction from the catchment are in the order of 450,000m3/year, with 150,000m3/year from the mainstem Waiapu River. This is considerably more than the amount of net bedload transfer for the mainstem which is assessed as being around 35,000 – 45,000m3/year.
  • Water quality across the catchment is impacted mainly by sediment and E.coli (bacteria).
  • Water quality and stream health is generally good in the headwaters but deteriorates once the rivers flow through the
  • Many of the monitoring sites are below national bottom lines for visual clarity (sediment), E.coli (bacteria), deposited sediment (on the river bed) and ecosystem health (macroinvertebrates).

Key Environmental Issues

  • Managing gravel extraction within sustainable limits.
  • Ongoing erosion and instability generating large amounts of sediment.
  • Stock access to rivers causing high levels of E.coli.
  • Poor ecosystem health in many rivers and streams

Waiapu Catchment

How to get involved

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