This section addresses issues of particular significance in the Hurunui River catchment (Map 6). The Hurunui is the northern boundary of the region covered by this IMP, and an area of shared interest with Ngāti Kuri (Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura).

Throughout its course from the mountains to the sea, the Hurunui River exhibits a diversity of character, reflected in the different landscapes through which the river flows. From the mountainous headwaters and high country lakes, the river flows through steep and highly scenic gorges to become a braided river flowing through the plains to emerge at an extensive lagoon and coastal forest. For Ngāi Tahu, the variable character of the river is essential to its cultural value, and is reflective of its life force.

The relationship of Ngāi Tahu with the Hurunui River catchment is centuries old and of outstanding significance to the iwi.
The river possesses a range of characteristics that are considered to be outstanding for spiritual, cultural and environmental reasons, including natural character, ara tawhito, mahinga kai and wāhi tapu. These values are a fundamental aspect of the relationship of Ngāi Tahu to the Hurunui River, and their protection is the focus of the issues and policy in this section.

Statutory Acknowledgements for the Hurunui River and Hoka Kura/Lake Sumner reflect the high cultural value of water in this catchment. Schedule 20 and 21 of the NTCSA 1998 set out Ngāi Tahu associations with the Hurunui River and Hoka Kura, and acknowledge the immense cultural, spiritual, historical and traditional significance of these water bodies (see Appendix 7).

Ngā Paetae Objectives

(1) The Hurunui River is recognised as an area of shared interest with Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura.
(2) The outstanding cultural characteristics and values of the Hurunui River catchment are protected and restored, mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei.
(3) Land use in the catchment reflects land capability and water limits, boundaries and availability.
(4) Groundwater and surface water quality in the catchments is restored to a level suitable to provide a safe, reliable and untreated drinking water supply and enable cultural, customary and recreational use.
(5) The Hurunui River Mouth and Hoka Kura/Lake Sumner and its associated wetlands are recognised and provided for as distinctive cultural landscapes within the catchment.
(6) Mahinga kai species and sites, and the traditions associated with them, are protected and enhanced.

Map 6

  • Shared Interest
  • Outstanding values
  • Pressures on the river
  • Effects of land use

Shared interest

Issue H1: The Hurunui river catchment is an area of shared interest.

Ngā Kaupapa / Policy

H1.1 To recognise and provide for the Hurunui river catchment as an area of shared interest with Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura

He Kupu Whakamāhukihuki / Explanation

The Hurunui River is the northern boundary of the region covered by this IMP. The catchment is an area of shared interest with Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura, as per the takiwā boundaries set out in the Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu (Declaration of Membership) Order 2001.

Outstanding values

Issue H2: The Hurunui river catchment has a number of outstanding characteristics and values.

Ngā Kaupapa / Policy

H2.1 To require that the whole of the Hurunui catchment is recognised as possessing the following outstanding cultural characteristics and values, and that these key characteristics are protected as a first order of priority: (a) Mahinga kai; (b) Natural character; (c) Wāhi tapu and wāhi taonga; (d) Hoka Kura; (e) River mouth environment; and (f) Ara tawhito ki pounamu.

H2.2 To require that the outstanding cultural characteristics of the Hurunui river catchment are protected by: (a) Asking ourselves ‘what we can do for the river, not what the river can do for us’; (b) Protecting the uninterrupted flow of water Ki Uta Ki Tai, source to sea; (c) Avoiding any activity that will result in the modification of Hoka Kura; (d) Avoiding any dams, diversions or storage on the mainstem (including all braids) of the river; (e) Avoiding any dams, diversions or storage on the South Branch; (f) Protecting the hāpua / river mouth environment; (g) Protecting and enhancing mahinga kai species and habitat; and (h) Actively sustaining our own mahinga kai traditions associated with the river, including intergenerational knowledge transfer.

He Kupu Whakamāhukihuki / Explanation

The Hurunui River possesses a range of outstanding characteristics or values that are considered to be outstanding for spiritual, cultural and environmental reasons. The cultural significance of the river is heightened by the fact that it remains one of the few braided rivers in the Ngāi Tahu takiwā that has not been significantly modified and/or degraded.

The Hurunui River, its tributaries and lakes are one of the last relatively untouched waterways in our takiwā… the significance of the Hurunui River and its associated waterways today lies in the fact that this ecosystem has yet to be substantially altered by intensive water abstractions and the inevitable associated land use practices.

...the simple fact that the Hurunui River has yet to be exploited by land use practices that have degraded the mauri of our rivers elsewhere means that this traditionally significant mahinga kai environment continues to be of outstanding significance to our culture today.

The South Branch of the Hurunui is considered a wāhi taonga in its own right, due to its role in flushing and cleansing sediment from the river, and for its wetlands. The south branch also supplies the sediment load needed by the river to scour periphyton. This wāhi taonga status is one of the main justifications for tāngata whenua opposing any damming or diversions of the South Branch.

Cultural Landscapes

Issue CL1: Ngā Tūtohu Whenua –

  • There is a need for culturally appropriate tools to identify and express the relationship of tāngata whenua with particular places, and the values that define that relationship;
  • Land use and development can have both positive and adverse effects on cultural landscapes;
  • An RMA focus on outstanding landscapes and outstanding natural features can mean that cultural landscapes are not recognised in planning and policy;
  • Enhancement and restoration of cultural landscapes is important to Ngāi Tahu culture, identity and well being.

Ngā Kaupapa / Policy

CL1.1 To require that local and central government recognise and provide for the ability of tāngata whenua to identify particular landscapes as significant cultural landscapes, reflecting:
(a) Concentration, distribution and nature of wāhi tapu and wāhi taonga; (b) Setting within which sites occur and significance of that setting; (c) Significance with regard to association and relationship to place; (d) Degree of risk/threat.

CL1.2 To require that local and central government give effect to cultural landscapes in policy, planning and decision making processes as a tool to:
(a) Enable holistic assessment of effects on cultural values; (b) Recognise the relationship of Ngāi Tahu to particular areas and sites;
(c) Provide a wider context for cultural heritage management and the protection of individual sites.

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CL1.3 To work with local authorities to increase awareness and knowledge of the use of cultural landscapes as a tāngata whenua planning tool.

CL1.4 To require that oral tradition and history is considered equally alongside documented evidence when determining the cultural landscape values associated with a particular area or site.

CL1.5 To require that NTCSA 1998 provisions are recognised and provided for as cultural landscape indicators, including Statutory Acknowledgments, Nohoanga, Tōpuni and Dual Place Names provisions.

CL1.6 To require that known Māori archaeological sites and silent files are recognised and provided for as cultural landscape indicators.

CL1.7 To use the following methods to protect and restore cultural landscapes of particular importance: (a) Purchasing particular areas (tribal or Papatipu Rūnanga ownership); (b) Designation as Māori reserve; (c) Registration with Historic Places Trust as wāhi tapu or wāhi tapu area; (d) Co-management arrangements or transfer of ownership; (e) Development of restoration plans to restore the mauri of particular places; (f) Covenants (e.g. heritage, open space, protective, etc); (g) Heritage orders; (h) Zoning in district plans to protect places from development; (i) Designation as Mahinga Kai Cultural Park; (j) Designation as Historic Reserve or local purpose reserve, under the Reserves Act 1977.

CL1.8 To identify opportunities to enhance cultural landscapes, including but not limited to: (a) Restoration/enhancement of indigenous biodiversity; (b) Enhancing views and connections to landscape features; (c) Appropriate and mandated historical interpretation; (d) Setting aside appropriate areas of open space within developments; (e) Use of traditional materials, design elements and artwork.

CL1.9 To enhance Ngāi Tahu cultural landscape values in the takiwā by: (a) Protection and restoration of places of cultural value to Ngāi Tahu, including those associated with mahinga kai; (b) Restoration and enhancement of indigenous biodiversity on the landscape, rural and urban; (c) Providing for cultural traditions (both traditional and contemporary) associated with particular places, including mahinga kai and recreational use (e.g. waka ama); (d) Incorporating Ngāi Tahu heritage values into landscape and urban design, through the use traditional place names, interpretation, artwork and public structures.

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He Kupu Whakamāhukihuki / Explanation

The whole of the Canterbury region has cultural landscape value: Ngāi Tahu travelled through, engaged with and named the land, and tāngata whenua history is part of the landscape. However, within this landscape of Ngāi Tahu land use and occupancy particular areas are identified as cultural landscapes. A cultural landscape is a geographical area with particular (and often related) traditional, historical, spiritual and ecological value to Ngāi Tahu. An area may be identified as a cultural landscape due to the concentration of values in a particular location, the particular importance of the area to Ngāi Tahu cultural, history or identity, or the need to manage an area as a particular landscape unit. Cultural landscapes are integral to Ngāi Tahu culture, identity and history, and are testament to relationship of tāngata whenua with the land over time. They are intergenerational: providing future generations (our tamariki and mokopuna) the opportunity to experience and engage with the landscape as their tūpuna once did.

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Cultural landscapes provide a culturally appropriate and useful framework for assessing and protecting the physical features of a site or area (e.g. sites of significance) and the relationship of tāngata whenua and their culture and tradi-tions to the site or area (RMA s.6(e)). The values associated with particular cultural landscapes are indicators of what tāngata whenua value most about the land. Planning for cultural landscapes is useful when making decisions about resources and appropriate use of an identified area, providing an assessment of potential effects on a site, place or resource and the relationship of that site, place or resource within a larger landscape of values and meaning. A cultural landscape approach shifts the focus from individual sites (e.g. New Zealand Archaeological Association or NZAA site) to the wider setting or context of a site - the relationship and linkages of the site to the area and other landscape features.

The focus on Policies CL1 to CL8 is to promote the recognition of cultural landscapes as a tāngata whenua land use planning and heritage management tool in regional and district planning and decision making processes, including landscape assessment and assessments of effects on the environment associated with resource consent applications, outline development plans, structure plans and area master plans. As a planning tool, cultural landscapes enable recognition of the particular cultural associations to an area and the way that activities may impact on those associations, including tāngata whenua aspiration and outcomes for that landscape.

Part 6 of this IMP identifies specific cultural landscapes in the various catchments of the takiwā, and local issues associated with those landscapes. An important kaupapa is that while land use and development has the potential to adversely affect cultural landscape values, these activities may also provide opportunities also enhance cultural landscapes. For example, the rebuild of Christchurch provides a significant opportunity to restore features of the traditional Ngāi Tahu cultural landscape and reflect the contemporary relationship of Ngāi Tahu to the city (see Section 6.5 Ihutai).

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Archaeological sites exist not only as entities in their own right, but as part of a much larger Ngāi Tahu identity. Some areas must be considered in light of the contribu-tion they make to the greater picture, not merely on the basis of their individual and isolated attributes. Ngāi Tahu concern with archaeological sites extends beyond that of ancestral connection alone. They are also valuable sources of information on the activities of their Tupuna which those in the present world know little about.


Issue H4: Cumulative effects of land use on the lower catchment and associated cultural values, in particular:
(a) Water quality and quantity; (b) Riparian areas and wetlands; (c) Soil health; and (d) The river mouth environment (see Issue H.5).

Ngā Kaupapa / Policy

H4.1 To protect the flows of the Hurunui River and tributaries Ki Uta Ki Tai by ensuring environmental flow regimes established for the Hurunui and its tributaries deliver meaningful cultural and environmental outcomes, as per general policy on Water quantity (Section 5.3 Issue WM8), with particular attention to: (a) Protecting the outstanding cultural characteristics of the catchment; and (b) The relationship between surface water and groundwater, and therefore the relationship between river health and aquifer recharge.

H4.2 To require immediate measures to improve water quality in the lower catchment as per the measures and mechanisms in general policies on Water quality (Section 5.3 Issue WM6), with particular focus on: (a) Prohibiting any activity that will result in the further decline of water quality in the lower catchment (e.g. discharge permits that enabling a discharge into water); (b) Requiring the protection and restoration of wetlands as filters and flood barriers; (c) Requiring improvements to the quality and quantity of run off entering waterways; and (d) Requiring the establishment of riparian areas as buffer zones.

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H4.3 To continue to undertake Cultural Health Assessments in lower catchment areas to assess the cultural health of waterways and assess progress towards meeting water quality and general cultural health objectives.

H4.4 To continue to advocate for more effective monitoring of the cumulative effects of land use on the lower catchment, and for stronger action for non-compliance.

H4.5To require monitoring of water quality of the hāpua / river mouth environment as a measure of overall catchment health of the effects of land use on the health of the river.


H4.6 To restore wetlands as a general priority in the catchment.

H4.7 To identify and initiate protection, enhancement and restoration activities for the following sites, species and ecosystems as a matter of priority: (a) Wetlands throughout the catchment, including remnant wetlands in the lower Waitohi River alongside State Highway 7 to its confluence with the Hurunui; (b) Lower catchment from the Mandamus River down (improving water quality); and (c) Pahau River (reducing nutrient loads).

He Kupu Whakamāhukihuki / Explanation

The relationship between land use and water quality and quantity is an important kaupapa for tāngata whenua, as a regional issue and at a catchment scale (see Section 5.3 Issue WM7). Water quality declines significantly in the lower reaches of the Hurunui River. This is a reflection of changes in land use patterns, vegetation clearance, wetland loss, and agricultural land use in areas such as the Amuri Plains, and the resultant effects of point source discharges such as drainage of intensively stocked land and irrigation bywash in rivers. There has been an approximate 98.7% loss in wetland area in the Hurunui Waiau Zone over time (Map 7). Riparian areas are degraded or absent in much of the lower catchment due to poor land management, weed invasion, and stock access, and therefore waterways have little or no buffers as protection from sedimentation and nutrient run off. The Hurunui catchment continues to experience pressure for land conversion (Issue H3), including the conversion of forestry blocks to more intensive land use such as dairy. Land use intensification must be carefully and prudently managed to ensure that there is no further decline in water quality and soil health, and proposed land use activities must show how they can improve and restore land and water resources. This requires recognising and working within the natural limits of both land and water resources.

For both of these species [whitebait and eels], access to the sea is important – for eels, it is essential. If water abstractions are allowed to intensify on the Hurunui River, then the risk of the narrow river mouth closing is greatly increased. There is no science behind this statement, just common sense and a realization that this is exactly what has occurred to other rivers in our takiwā (c.f. Waipara River).

The health of hāpua reflects the health of the catchment, and therefore how well we are doing managing water and land resources (Section 5.6, Issue TAN3), as the outcomes of all land and water use find their way to the hāpua. Establishing water quality and cultural health monitoring at the Hurunui river mouth is a priority for tāngata whenua, as part of a continuing cultural health assessment and monitoring program for the catchment (see Box - Cultural Health Assessments in the Hurunui catchment).

  • River mouth environment
  • Weed control
  • High country lakes

Hurunui river mouth

Issue H5: Protection of the Hurunui River mouth as a cultural landscape.

Ngā Kaupapa / Policy

H5.1 To recognise, provide for and manage the Hurunui river mouth environment as a cultural landscape with significant cultural, ecological, historical, traditional, and contemporary associations, in particular: (a) Protecting sites of significance and cultural associations to place; (b) Ensuring continuous and reliable flow of water to the river mouth; (c) Maintaining the saltwater-freshwater balance in the hāpua, and therefore mahinga kai habitat; and (d) Ensuring fish passage between the river and the sea.

H5.2 To require monitoring of water quality of the hāpua / river mouth environment as a measure of overall catchment health of the effects of land use on the health of the river.

He Kupu Whakamāhukihuki / Explanation

The Hurunui River catchment possesses a range of characteristics that are considered to be outstanding for spiritual, cultural and environmental reasons (Issue H2), and a number of these characteristics are associated with the river mouth. The Hurunui River mouth is of immense significance to Ngāi Tahu, culturally and ecologically. Culturally, the site is rich in wāhi tapu and wāhi taonga values, as a major Moa-Hunter Occupation site. Ecologically, the hāpua provides a freshwater sea water interface that is critical to mahinga kai habitat. A continuous flow of good clean water Ki Uta Ki Tai is critical to protecting the river mouth environment and the cultural values associated with it.

Weed Control

Issue H6: Woody trees and weeds such as willow, gorse and broom are invading the beds and margins of the Hurunui and its tributaries.

Ngā Kaupapa / Policy

H6.1 To work with Environment Canterbury and the Department of Conservation to identify all parts of the Hurunui River and its tributaries where the active riverbed is invaded by standing trees and woody and herbaceous weeds, and develop a control strategy.

H6.2 To promote the adoption of a long-term plan in the takiwā to phase out willows and re-establish with appropriate native species.

H6.3 Environmental flow and allocation limits must ensure that there is sufficient water in the river, and that the 186 duration of frequency of floods is such, that weedy species do not establish or spread in the river bed

He Kupu Whakamāhukihuki / Explanation

As with many braided rivers in the takiwā, trees such as willow, and woody weeds such as gorse and broom, have invaded the riverbed in the lower reaches of the Hurunui. The invasion of weedy species in the bed and margins of the river is attributed in part to the lack of sufficient and regular flood flows to enable the river to cleanse itself. When river ecosystems are compromised, weedy species are more likely to establish. A critical component of any long term strategy to control weeds in riverbeds and margins is the establishment of appropriate native riparian species along river margins as weedy species are removed.

High country lakes

Issue H7: The protection of high country lakes and associated cultural values in the Hurunui catchment.

Ngā Kaupapa / Policy

H7.1 To recognise and provide for Hoka Kura and associated high country lakes, waterways and wetlands as a cultural landscape with significant historical, traditional, cultural and contemporary associations. Key characteristics of this cultural landscape include: (a) High natural character; (b) Tribal history; (c) Mahinga kai species and habitat, including species that are no longer found elsewhere in the catchment; and (d) Statutory Acknowledgement and nōhoanga.

H7.2 To protect high country lakes and their margins from sedimentation caused by inappropriate land use by: (a) Prohibiting stock access; and (b) Prohibiting forestry activity on lake margins.

He Kupu Whakamāhukihuki / Explanation

Hoka Kura is referred to in the tradition of “Ngā Puna Wai Karikari o Rākaihautū”, which tells of how the principal lakes of Te Waipounamu were dug by the rangatira Rākaihautū using his famous kō or digging stick. Schedule 20 of the NTCSA 1998 sets out Ngāi Tahu associations with Hoka Kura, and acknowledges the immense cultural, spiritual, historical and traditional significance of this high country lake (see Appendix 7). The Act also recognises a Nohoanga associated with Hoka Kura, acknowledging the importance of the lake as mahinga kai. In addition to Hoka Kura, a number of other lakes exist in the upper catchment: Waitetemoroiti (Loch Katrine) and Lakes Marion, Taylor, Sheppard and Mason, and the smaller Lake Mary and Raupō Lagoon (tarns). Lakes such as Little Lake Mason are highly valued as habitat for native fish and invertebrates. Risks to these lakes include sedimentation and damage to lake margin vegetation as a result of stock access.

Once safely over Noti Taramakau (Harpers Pass) travellers replenished their food supplies from the resources of Hoka Kura (Lake Sumner) and Waitetemoroiti (Loch Katrine). It was a time for resting and food gathering for the next stage of their journey. …eels and ducks were gathered from Hoka Kura (Lake Sumner), Waitetemoroiti (Loch Katrine), Lakes Taylor and Sheppard and the Waitohi River; weka and pukeko from the Waikari Plain; and eels and ducks from the Waipara River. In 1993 when I last visited Hoka Kura (Lake Sumner) I observed that the eel weir post at the eastern end of Hoka Kura (Lake Sumner) where it flows into Waitetemoroiti (Loch Katrine) was still visible.

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