Sustainable Development Success Stories

Oratia catchment water resources management

Location Oratia Water Catchment, Waitakere City, New Zealand.
Responsible Organisation Waitakere City Council. The project was financed by Waitakere City Council as part of the District Planning process.
Description Waitakere City covers an area of 36,000ha of which 1/3 is urban, 1/3 rural and 1/3 wilderness area. The Oratia water catchment runs from the forest covered Waitakere Ranges, through rural orchards and the built up urban area before entering the Waitemata Harbour. It is one of three major rivers which flow through the urban area.

Many areas of native bush, streams and wetlands in the area are currently under threat from grazing and weed invasion, however landowners are unable to afford to fence and/or undertake weed control without revenue gained from subdivision.

The rural areas of the Oratia Catchment are experiencing pressure for subdivision as orcharding and horticulture become less viable and due to their location on the urban fringe. Further subdivision, if allowed to continue in an ad hoc manner, has the potential to make worse the existing water quality and flooding problems.

An innovative structure planning approach, new under New Zealand s Resource Management Act was used. All the stakeholders in the community were brought together to discuss the issues involved and develop a plan for the Oratia Catchment.

An analysis of the landscape, water issues and vegetation quality was undertaken which formed the basis of the structure plan by indicating areas for physical and legal protection (weed control, fencing and bush protection covenants) as well as areas where the restoration of natural habitats or revegetation was needed. The process also identified areas suitable for further subdivision and where development could potentially occur. This future development is contingent on the identified protection, restoration and revegetation actions required on each landowner s property being undertaken.

The Structure Plan has been publicly notified and has been through a Council Hearings process. It is currently the subject of a reference to the Environment Court.

Issues Addressed Strategic approaches to freshwater management, in particular: Water Quality, Catchment Management, Biological Diversity, Indigenous Vegetation Protection.
Results Achieved Increased understanding of water quality and flooding issues by the local community.

A holistic interconnected catchment management approach to development of rural areas of the Oratia Catchment which is owned by the community and which will result in protection and restoration of indigenous vegetation and aquatic habitats.

Introduction of a regulatory framework that requires active protection and enhancement before any development can be undertaken; and restriction of development in protect water catchment areas.

Lessons Learned These will become more obvious as the project is further implemented. A process such as this can result in greater community understanding and ownership of issues, however it is difficult to achieve complete agreement by a community.
Contact Ms. Julie Turner, Senior Policy Analyst
Waitakere City Council
Private Bag 93019
Henderson, Waitakere City, New Zealand
Tel. (64 9) 836 8000 ext. 8413; Fax (64 9) 836 8057
E-mail julie.turner@waitakere.govt.nz