On the way to cleaner rivers

NRC Chairman Bill Shepherd with the New Zealand River Award for Northland’s most improved river, the Hakaru

The Hakaru River has won Northland’s most improved award at the New Zealand River Awards run by Cawthron Foundation, the country’s largest independent science organisation.

Northland Regional Council Chairman Bill Shepherd recently accepted the award on behalf of the Hakaru community and Northland ratepayers. Rivers are selected based on information collected by Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA), which is independent of councils.

It originates in the Brynderwyn hills and flows south through farmland, until it reaches the Topuni River and feeds into the Kaipara harbour. 

“The river’s steady recovery is testament to the cumulative effect of landowners and environmental groups, working with advice and support from the council, New Zealand Landcare Trust and Department of Conservation,” said Mr Shepherd.

“No single factor is responsible for the trend improvement of 10% every year in E.coli, in the last 10 years. Many activities have led to this great result and similar results are being achieved in catchments around the region.”

Landowners have been planting on river banks, with one large stock farm implementing fencing off streams and pest control into their management.

Many local dairy farms have also installed more effluent ponds, with most having two to four, providing greater storage and more effective management.

“Environmental groups are also working hard on water quality and controlling pests such as goats, pigs and possums. Some of this has been done with funding from the regional council’s environment fund.”


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