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Te Waiū o TūtiraTe Waiū o Tūtira

We are working with Maungaharuru Tangitū Trust, landowners and the local community to restore and protect the lakes.

Tūtira Lakes - a clean and healthy lake


The Tūtira lakes are lakes Tūtira, Waikōporo, Orakai and Opouahi, about 40km north of Napier.

Tūtira and Waikōpiro lakes are officially as regionally outstanding water bodies for cultural reasons, and have long been popular for recreation and fishing.  The lakes are central to many recreational and environmental opportunities in the area. The Maungaharuru Tangitū Trust, landowners and the local community are working together to improve the health of the lakes.

What do we want to fix?

The lakes have been by affected poor water quality and algal blooms for decades - the first algal bloom was recorded in 1959, after aerial top dressing of fertiliser began in the catchment

Before this time, the land cover had undergone extreme changes. The forest ecosystem was replaced by bracken and shrub following burning by Māori colonists and then European colonists replaced it with pasture

Algal blooms are not an overnight problem, and there’s no single cause. Rain washes soil and nutrients from fertiliser into the lake from the surrounding landscape, plus a ‘legacy load’, a build up over decades, of soil and fertiliser nutrients sits in the lake bed - both these reduce water quality and feed algal blooms. 

The invasive and noxious weed Hydrilla invaded the Lakes Tūtira, Waikōpiro, and Opouahi. A nationally led eradication programme is underway.

The diversion of Papakiri Stream/Sandy Creek to reduce nutrient inputs, and the introduction of grass carp to control Hydrilla, complicate the water quality dynamics.

Tūtira Lakes Environmental Monitoring Data

We undertake monthly monitoring of four lake sites, using a monitoring buoy in each lake.

If you are going to go fishing or swimming in the lakes, you can assess the health of the lake from the monitoring data.

Check if you're 'good to go' swimming

If you would like more information on the lake, including cyanobacteria, oxygen and trophic levels, go to our environment dashboard. 

Full environmental dashboard


What do we want to do?

We want to restore the lake and prevent future contamination from the wider landscape.

Over the years, there have been many actions to improve the lake such as tree planting and creating more wetland areas. The Regional Council purchased the regional park to manage it as a soil conservation area. 

The Regional Council has also carried out a lot of science investigations in recent years to record how this complex lake works and to find long term solutions.

We are working with Maungaharuru Tangitū Trust, landowners and the local community to improve the health of the lake

The aim is to reconnect Papakiri Stream’s clean low flows - while stopping the muddy storm flows, add more lake edge and wetland planting. Sensitive catchment management is being supported through farm planning advice.

Our work so far

New monitoring buoy installed - a new monitoring buoy has been installed in lake Tūtira, with the old buoy moved into Waikōpiro. This buoy provides real-time information on algal blooms and allowed us to replace the permanent advisory against swimming with a more adaptive risk management approach.

Maungaharuru - Tangitū Trust - a partnership between the Regional Council and Maungaharuru-Tangitu Trust continues as we work to restore the lakes. The Trust and hapu have planted around the lake edges.

Farm Environment Management Plans (FEMP) In collaboration with landowners, to date FEMP’s have been completed for 1934ha (68%) of the Lake Tūtira catchment. Over the past three years these plans have resulted in the fencing and retirement of 4.5km of waterways and planting of approximately 31,000 native plants and 1500 poplar poles for slope stability.

Air Curtain - an air curtain trial in Waikōpiro Lake at Tūtira began in 2017, and has produced promising results. The air curtain mixes oxygen through the water column, but we don’t know if it is still necessary for Tūtira given the recent reductions in algal bloom frequency. The trial continues as part of Te Waiū o Tūtira (the milk of Tūtira) project, which is a partnership between Maungaharuru-Tangitū Trust and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council aimed at restoring the mauri of Lakes Waikōpiro and Tūtira.

In the past, a lack of oxygen and the lake water heating up over summer has been a major factor causing algal blooms and the death of fish, which has left the lakes largely out of bounds to those who enjoy camping, swimming and boating in the area. Blooms can also turn toxic and pose risk to human and dog health.

What is it and what will it do? - Pressurised air is pumped through a 50-metre pipe tethered near the bottom of the lake and across the deepest part, creating an air curtain. The air curtain increases oxygen levels at all depths through the lake by creating a circulation current, much like the bubble in a fish aquarium. The system is being piloted in the smaller Waikōpiro.

The air curtain was constructed on-site by the Regional Council's Works Group staff, mostly out of parts found in any hardware store.

Here is a video of the Regional Council installing the air curtain.



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