Project Title: Waimā Waitai Waiora Restoring the Wairoa River and its tributaries

Funding Close Date: 16 Oct 2020



Metres Planted:
10000 m

NZD $60000

Location: Wairoa River Catchment and its Tributaries, from the Wairua and Mangakahia, to the Kaipara.

GPS Coordinates: -36.036161, 173.940798

Project Cost: NZD $60000

Cost per Metre: NZD $6

Metres to be planted: 10000m

Field Partner: Northland Regional Council

Project ID: NI41

Project Description:


We are back! We are excited to be fundraising to restore the mauri of the Wairoa River and its tributaries for the second year. Last year we raised $60,000 to plant 100,000 native plants and trees within the Wairua, Mangakahia, Manganui and Kaihu Catchments, which are all tributaries to the Wairoa River. Other major tributaries include the Tangowahine, Ruawai and Pouto Peninsula all of which flow to meet the Wairoa and then the Kaipara Moana. We have taken on a 382,000-hectare challenge and we need your help! Join us in restoring native plants and fencing waterways.

Million Metres are one of eight partners within Waimā Waitai Waiora Partnership – this large scale project to improve the quality of water that flows into the Kaipara Moana.


With the fundraising so far, we have helped get 100,000 trees in the ground within the Wairoa Catchment. Restoration has been targeted at high value wetlands and streams throughout the rohe. The partnership planted 41,200 plants directly for waterway and wetland protection. Living Water planted 22,250 natives within the Wairua River Catchment and the Mangere Catchment Group planted 1550 riparian plants. 

In the 2019 planting season the Waimā Waitai Waiora Partnership hosted 8 volunteer planting days across the catchment that brought together mana whenua, school children, businesses and landowners. These projects were spread across 9 areas including 7 farms and 3 Marae, including Akerama Marae (Ngāti Hau), Tau Henare (Te Orewai) and Ngāraratunua (Ngāti Kahu o Torongare).  

This video shows some of the restoration activities at Ngāraratunua Marae where 6000 wetland plants have been planted. The site is an elver (juvenile eel) release site for Ngā Kaitiaki o Ngā Wai Māori (A collective of 7 hapū along the Wairua and Mangakahia catchments working together to protect habitat and increase numbers of tuna and other native species in our waterways). These plants will help filter nutrients and sediment flowing from the land and provide important shade habitat for tuna (eel).

One of the projects led by local hapū Ngati Hau and located on the Purvis property in Akerama focused on restoring swamp habitat for a significant population of a nationally threatened black mudfish. These fish have adapted to live in wetlands and peat lakes, so it’s really important to restore these habitats for this rare species.  

We want to continue making change by …

  • planting native plants and fencing waterways

  • monitoring water quality and taonga species

  • helping land owners protect and clean up waterways

  • restoring our native ecosystems and protecting biodiversity

  • improving habitat for snapper and tuna,

  • helping our young people understand challenges and enable them to be part of the solution

… to ensure we are enhancing the mauri of the awa – to protect the many taonga, for the future.


The Kaipara is the largest harbour in the southern hemisphere. It is a national taonga for the many cultural, social, ecological and economic values it provides.

Iwi and Hapū are spiritually and physically intertwined through whakapapa with the mosaic of rivers that all flow to the Kaipara Moana. As people who actively practice Kaitiakitanga; protecting and enhancing Te mauri o te wai (the life force or life supporting capacity of water), the harbour is critically important to us.

The harbour contains some of the rarest ecosystems in New Zealand – including sand dunes, seagrass beds, and wetlands. It is a nursery for west coast snapper, grey mullet, flounder and other fish. It supports commercial, recreational and customary fisheries, agriculture, industry and tourism.


The mauri of the Kaipara, its ecological health and wellbeing are being degraded and highly influenced by the catchments of the Wairoa River (which is the source of 70 per cent of the sediment (eroded soil) flowing into the harbour).

The Wairoa River is the main river flowing into the Kaipara from the north, fed by the Wairua and Mangakahia rivers. It is the longest river in the Northland region and its catchment is vast (382,000 hectares). Today, 68 per cent of the catchment is in pastoral farming, and 32 per cent is in exotic forestry or shrubland and native bush.

Historic deforestation in the catchment, unfenced streams and rivers, and the draining of wetlands have all led to erosion issues, and high levels of sediment and contamination in the Wairoa River catchments and ultimately to the Kaipara harbour.

These water quality issues impact the health of our toanga species including tuna, kēwai, kākahi, inanga and other fish in the catchment. They impact the habitat for Great White and Hammerhead sharks, stingray and snapper in the Kaipara Harbour. They also impact on kai moana beds, including pipis, scallops, mussels, oysters and more. They affect people and their ability to fish, gather food and make a living, and many places in the lower catchment are unsafe to swim after heavy rain due to faecal contamination.


Our rivers and harbour are dying; it is imperative we act now. We are people from your community who are working to improve the mauri of all the rivers across Northland flowing into the Kaipara Harbour. We are the land and the land is us. We are the river and the river is us. We are working together to lead change that is much bigger than all of us.

We are learning from the past and we know that new and transformative practices are needed to make genuine change that will positively impact the health of our awa. We are bringing together two world views and challenging people’s thinking to find creative solutions that work for today – and tomorrow – within the values of kaitiakitanga, manaakitanga, whanaungatanga and aroha. 

Through Wāima Waitai Waiora, we are lending our voices to the land and the river. They need your voices too, if they are to be heard. Just as all the tributaries flow together from across Northland to contribute to the Mangakahia, the Wairua , the Northern Wairoa and Kaipara Harbour, so must we flow together, lending our mana and mauri, to contribute to the success of this mahi.

Our land and our rivers need the support of land owners, iwi, children, whanau, business, hapū, fishermen, government, parents, farmers, teachers… everyone, if they are to survive. Join us in helping to protect the future of our children. To our next generation we say “we will not let you inherit our failings. We are working together to change our world and protect your future”.

The Wāima Waitai Waiora project partners include:

  • Ngā Kaitiaki o Ngā Wai Māori (made up of 7 hapu from the Wairua catchment)

  • Te Roroa

  • Te Uri o Hau

  • Integrated Kaipara Harbour Management Group

  • Reconnecting Northland

  • Living Water (DOC and Fonterra Partnership)

  • Northland Regional Council

  • Million Metres of the Sustainable Business Network


A key part of this project is riparian planting. Our goal is to plant 100,000 native plants and trees annually along streams, rivers and wetlands in the Wairoa catchment for five years.

We’re crowdfunding now to plant in 2020. We will plant the native trees where they matter most. Planting along waterways helps to stabilise stream banks and decreases the sediment (eroded soil) entering the waterways.

Eventually, the plants will grow up and shade the water, lowering water temperatures and providing habitat and food for native birds and fish. Bringing back wetlands means they can filter nutrients and sediment and keep them out of the river and the harbour.


The Integrated Kaipara Harbour Management Group and Reconnecting Northland are contributing very low cost plants for the project.

This generous contribution of 100,000 native plants annually significantly decreases our costs, but we still need funds to get the plants in the ground and maintain them.

We’re raising funds so that we can prepare the sites for planting, the planting itself and maintaining the plantings over time to ensure the trees survive. 15 per cent of the funds raised will go to Million Metres to cover their costs.


The amazing annual contribution of 100,000 native plants is a big part of it.

This is also a collaborative, five-year project with a total budget of nearly $2.5 million. As a result, there are other sources of funds for the planting effort from the Waimā Waitai Wairoa partners.

Finally, iwi, hapū and other landowners, and communities are already contributing to this work and will continue to make a huge contribution, volunteering their time during planting days, or taking care of the plants.


Te Uri o Hau’s Native Nursery is where the plants will be propagated. This nursery is a Te Uri o Hau initiative to support the Integrated Kaipara Harbour Management Group in its vision to achieve a healthy and productive Kaipara Harbour. The nursery is a not for profit organisation that was established with the help of funding grants from Lotteries NZ and Reconnecting Northland.


We invite you to join us in this multi-year effort to restore the mauri of the Kaipara and its catchment. It will take all of us working together to achieve our goals. You can support us by making a donation today. Any amount, big or small, makes a difference.