The Tukituki catchment generally covers the land surrounding the Tukituki and Waipawa Rivers. The footprint extends west to the Ruahine Ranges and east to the southern coastal hills of Hawke’s Bay. This area is dominated by the Ruataniwha Plains, the Ruataniwha Aquifer beneath, and the Papanui Aquifer near Otane.
Soils on the plains range from free-draining gravels to water-logged clays. A series of fault lines align with the ranges, namely the Mohaka and Ruahine faults.
The climate is variable with higher rainfall in the mountains and a rain shadow across the plains. Temperatures are moderate-to-hot in summer with frosts in winter. The area is also prone to droughts and flooding. The 2019-20 drought was one of the most severe in recent times.
Much of the original native cover was cleared to make way for grassland. The Ruahine Forest Park provide the main area of native bush. There are small pockets of remnant bush on farmland and in scenic reserves. The most significant area of 300 hectares of remaining natural wetlands is Lake Whatumā. The braided Tukituki and Waipawa Rivers provide habitat for endangered bird species.
The main land use is pastoral which includes dairying, sheep and beef farming. There are also orchards, vineyards and arable farming.
The main towns servicing the rural areas are Waipukurau and Waipawa, with smaller settlements at Ongaonga, Otane, Takapau and Tikokino. The two towns and Takapau have community water supply systems. Communities are otherwise reliant on their own household systems. Water shortages are common in summer months.
State Highways 2 and 50 bisect the area, connecting Hastings and Napier with Palmerston North, the Wairarapa and Wellington. A railway line connects Palmerston North and Napier Port, and a train station remains at Waipukurau.
The following infographic displays what the community has told us about this catchment in our first round of engagement. For more information read the full Kotahi Community Engagement Report here.
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