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Bringing back life to Putere Lakes

The first project of its kind in Wairoa will work to improve the water quality of Putere Lakes.

The three lakes are found 20 kilometres down Putere Road, which is left at Raupunga. The first and biggest of the three lakes is Lake Rotonuiaha, the second Lake Rotoroa and lastly Lake Rotongaio. Putere Lakes are especially beautiful at sunset.

For five years, the Ngati Pahauwera Development Trust (NPDT), landowners, and Putere Marae have been working together to improve the water quality, bring back native fish and plant life, and have children swimming in the lakes again. Fencing, riparian planting, a lakes symposium, a hikoi for the community and a children's community science day are some of the work that has already been completed in a step toward achieving these goals.

NPDT are partnering with the Hawke's Bay Regional Council and the community to improve the quality of Putere Lakes in Wairoa.

Regional council freshwater ecologist Dr Gary Rushworth says the project is an exciting partnership and the first project of its kind in the region.

“It's been great working together with NPDT, particularly with our latest project which funded the design and creation of innovative water quality sampling platforms we started using in January.

“The platforms provide safe and easy access to deep water, and native plantings on the platforms help them blend into the environment.

“As an added benefit, they provide a nursery for planting up the shoreline,” said Mr Rushworth.

Using the platform, members of Ngati Pahauwera were able to conduct water testing to gain a better understanding of the quality.

“At the moment, we don't know much about the current water quality of the three lakes. We are working with NPDT and the local community to monitor the lakes and once we have got a picture of results, we will figure out what we need to do to improve the quality.”

The work has been supported by the Regional Council and other agencies, including Nga Whenua Rahui, NIWA, DoC and Fish & Game.

NPDT kaitiaki supervisor Kuki Green says it is truly a collaborative project and great to see the plans from 2015 coming to fruition.

“The water quality, the mauri ora, and the biodiversity of the lakes and the adjoining wetlands have been degraded by a lack of protection from stock, invasive weeds and pests. We have just finished fencing off two of the three lakes and have been working successfully with the landowners on excluding stock and riparian planting so that Waahi Tapu and sites of significance are protected,” says Kuki.

“Now, with the water sampling in place, we can look at the impact of removing Hornwort — an invasive aquatic weed — which is choking the lakes. We are also going to look at the impact of birdlife on the lakes in future.”

Water Testing: Hawke's Bay Regional Council scientist water quality and ecology Dr Gary Rushworth and Ngāti Pāhauwera Development Trust kaitiaki supervisor Kuki Green testing the water.
Quality lakes: Hawke's Bay Regional Council water quality and ecology scientist Dr Gary Rushworth and Ngati Pahauwera Development Trust Kaitiaki supervisor Kuki Green testing the Putere Lakes water. Picture supplied