Waikanae river


Taking a whole catchment approach, Ngā Awa is working in partnership with others to restore the biodiversity of 14 rivers from mountains to sea.

    Ngā Awa logo saying Ngā Awa river restoration – working together from mountains to sea

    Ngā Awa began in 2019 and is an extension of our existing work to slow the decline in New Zealand’s biodiversity. It focuses on a diverse range of priority river catchments across the country.

    Objectives of Ngā Awa

    This programme is working to:

    • improve the condition, biodiversity and the ecological processes of the rivers
    • protect the threatened species (like native fish) that are present
    • increase the ability of each river to cope with climate change.  

    These objectives are being achieved through collaboration and co-design with our project partners. Planning the restoration work is also underpinned by sound technical and scientific advice.

    A local partnership approach

    From their source in the mountains to the coast, rivers run through many different landscapes including native vegetation, farming, horticulture, forestry and urban areas. All these activities and land uses affect a river and need to be considered in its restoration.

    Local iwi, hapū and whānau are our principal partners for Ngā Awa and are involved in all aspects of the restoration. We are also working with regional councils, landowners, businesses, community groups, Fish & Game, the Ministry for the Environment and other agencies.

    Ngā Awa rivers

    Rivers with more information

    Other Ngā Awa rivers

    • Waihou River, Northland
    • Doubtless Bay, including Awapoko, Oruaiti and Oruru subcatchments, Northland
    • Hoteo, Auckland
    • Mahurangi, Auckland
    • Te Awa Tupua/Whanganui, Whanganui
    • Waitaki, Canterbury
    • Taieri, Otago
    • Eglinton, Southland
    • Waikawa, Southland.

    Research themes and reports

    Several research themes have been identified as priorities for the programme. These include climate change resilience, river geomorphology, socio-economic drivers and monitoring needs.

    Research to date includes the preparation of baseline reports for several catchments, see individual river pages. Ngā Awa is also building connections with research providers to answer questions about particular catchments or to integrate our research into broader programmes.

    Jobs for Nature Biodiversity Monitoring report

    This report describes a monitoring programme to assess the effectiveness of the Jobs for Nature (JFN) investment in Ngā Awa catchments, based on biodiversity outcomes.

    More about the JFN Biodiversity Monitoring report.

    How the rivers were chosen

    Ngā Awa includes rivers from different regions in New Zealand and from the east and west coasts. The size of their catchments is varied and together they include a range of diverse ecosystems.

    Rivers that are part of this programme met the following criteria:

    • the headwaters were in a natural condition
    • sections of the catchment nearer the coast (lowland areas) were in good condition
    • important ecosystems were present
    • local communities were interested in or already involved in restoration work
    • the catchment had some factors that could be fixed or improved
    • there was a connection to different types of habitat on public conservation land
    • some threatened fish species were present.


    If you have any questions or want to get involved, email us.

    Email: freshwaterrestoration@doc.govt.nz

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