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Source: Environment Canterbury Regional Council

“For many years the lagoon has been impacted by land use and development, natural hazards, and climate change which have all contributed to a decline in ecosystem health. 

“Aside from the ecological problems in the lagoon itself, we also have some big future decisions to plan for around how we collectively approach issues like coastal erosion, stormwater management and seawater inundation in this catchment.

“This is our chance to plan for a better future for this special place — and we want all parts of the community to get involved to ensure we get it right.”

Timaru District Council Group Manager, Paul Cooper, encourages locals to be ‘champions’ for this project.

“Generations of Timaruvians and their whānau have visited and enjoyed the Waitarakao Lagoon. While some works have been undertaken by various agencies to look after this important natural area, there is a need for more concentrated efforts.

“We see the community as being a key partner — we want to encourage community champions to get involved, tell us what matters to them, and join us in creating a roadmap for how we restore this area for future generations.”

What’s coming up: the strategy process

Over the next year — and with multiple opportunities for input from the community and stakeholders — a strategy will be created for the whole Waitarakao Washdyke catchment that will outline the actions needed to ensure a healthy future for this area. The strategy is intended to cover short-term needs and actions, right through to long-term ideas for change to improve the wellbeing of the next generations.

There are policies and legislation already in place for Waitarakao Washdyke that you may be aware of, such as the Environment Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan, Timaru District Council bylaws, the Wildlife Act 1953 and Mātaitai bylaws, to name just a few. The strategy will consider existing legislation — and link in with other relevant plans being developed — to identify what else is needed to ensure a better future for the lagoon.

Once the strategy is created and approved, it will be implemented into a non-statutory plan, with functional stages, actions, and requirements for future funding. Information gathered as part of the ‘Our Waitarakao’ strategy will help inform future local and regional planning processes.

How to get involved

The partners want to hear experiences of Washdyke Waitarakao Lagoon Catchment — past and present — and understand what’s important to people for its future.

There are lots of ways to get involved: