Regions: Gisborne, Gisborne
The Waimatā Catchment is 23,600 ha of steep hill country inland from Gisborne. The Waimatā River is 38km in length, and the catchment has a mix of forestry on steep landslide prone land in the mid catchment and pastoral farming on earthflow and dissected hill country in the upper and lower catchment. Like many East Coast catchments the farming is a mix of sheep and beef, and there is a mosaic of bush and wetlands across the catchment.
The Waimatā River flows into the centre of Gisborne and is the most used recreational waterway in the Gisborne Region. It was known as the river of gold, for all the gold medals gained by kayakers who trained on it. Tairāwhiti's champion waka ama crew also train on the river.
In summer the river is full of kids diving and swimming, and jumping off the bridges into the river is a right of passage for Gisborne young people.
The Waīmatā has also seen its fair share of bad times. Erosion in the catchment is significant and there are two large earth flows always on the move. Because of the erosion "protection" pine forests were planted in the catchment after Cyclone Bola in the 1980s. The harvest of some of these areas has resulted in sedimentation and large amounts of forestry slash affecting the river.
The Waimatā Catchment Group has been running since 2019. We an incorporated society and have been successful in gaining funding from Te Uru Rākau, MFE and DOC.
Our core focus is riparian fencing and native tree planting - though being hill country there will be a fair few poplars and willows being planted as well.
The group is very keen to restore biodiversity in the catchment and we have recently commenced a comprehensive predator management programme over 3000 hectares in the upper catchment. The Waikereru Ecosanctuary sits in the lower part of the catchment. That plus the range of bush areas, as well as the forestry and woodlots provide habitat for a number of native species and we are wanting to support them to thrive through predator management.
Our group is open to foresters and other landowners to join. We know that it will take the combined commitment of all landowners and river users to improve the health of the river and catchment.
We have recently signed a Partnership Agreement with the Gisborne District Council and are looking forward to working with the lower catchment community and iwi to develop a restoration plan for the lower catchment - which includes a more mixed landownership of farms, lifestyle blocks and also part of Gisborne City.