Lake Tutira gets multi-million dollar makeover

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

Popular Hawke's Bay destination Lake Tutira has been given a $3.5mil makeover over five years for Project Te Waiū o Tūtira to get it healthy again.

It's a picturesque spot but what lies beneath is another story. 

Lake Tutira has been likened to a stagnant sink of water, collecting a century of sediment and nutrients from surrounding farmland.

"The problem is the nutrients that have come down over the years into the bottom of the lake.  When we get into summertime we get these inversion layers with the temperatures and that releases the nutrients from the bottom of the lake and algal blooms," says Paul Bailey, Ambassador for Lake Tūtira, Hawke's Bay Regional Council. 

But it's a taonga to the sub-tribes of Maungaharuru Tangitu Trust which has been working for years to restore it, and this new funding can help accelerate that.

"The money has come from the council and government to restore the mauri of our lake," says Shayne Walker, General Manager of Maungaharuru Tangitū Trust, "Our dream is that we will be able to swim in it and fish for eels".

Over the years, the lake has been the scene of mass fish deaths and multiple algal booms but new funding will enable riperian planting and new technology to help oxygenate it by circulating the water.

"The amount of money that has come from the fresh water improvement fund is significant for Tūtira because it requires an awful lot of resourcing because there is a lot of work to be done," says Bailey.

The grant comes from a pool of $100mil from the Ministry for the Environment Freshwater Improvement Fund over the next 10 years to improve New Zealand's waterways.