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Lake Horowhenua Project

This page provides information on the Lake Horowhenua Project. It received Crown funding from the Fresh Start for Freshwater Clean-up Fund in 2014. The project runs to mid-2017.

Project details

Project cost:


Crown funding:



Lake Horowhenua, Manawatu-Wanganui Region


Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council (Horizons), Horowhenua Lake Trustees, Horowhenua District Council, DairyNZ and the Tararua Growers Association


Lake Horowhenua Trustees 

Project purpose:

To improve: the suitability of the lake for recreational purposes; lake health through reduction of sediment and nutrient inputs; the native fish habitat and access to the lake for native fish.

Project timeframe: 2014–mid-2017


Lake Horowhenua is a taonga of the local iwi, an important recreational asset for the district and a significant habitat for birds, native fish and wetland plants.

In the past it was also a clean water supply and valued fishery for the Muaūpoko iwi who lived in the coastal forest that surrounded the lake.

Clearance of coastal forest, draining of swamps, intensification of land use, urban expansion and the disposal of treated effluent up until 1987 have degraded the lake’s water quality. In 2010 Lake Horowhenua was ranked 107 out of 114 lakes for its water quality in the National Institute of Water and Atmosphere Lake Water Quality Report.

In 2013 five parties representing the Muaūpoko owners, community interests and statutory bodies developed and signed the Lake Horowhenua Accord. The parties agreed to work together to provide leadership, halt the degradation and put in place remedial measures on Lake Horowhenua and Hokio Stream to ensure these taonga hold pride of place in the Horowhenua community.

The objectives of the clean-up project are to:

  • improve the suitability of the lake for recreational purposes
  • improve the health of the lake and its catchment by reducing sediment and nutrient inputs
  • enhance native fish habitat and accessibility to the lake for native fish.

The clean-up fund project forms one component of the Lake Horowhenua Action Plan that was released in August 2014.

Funded interventions

The lake's water quality issues are being addressed by:

  • lake weed harvesting
  • provision of a boat wash facility
  • riparian fencing and planting
  • urban stormwater treatment interventions
  • construction of a sediment trap to reduce sediment inputs to the lake
  • an integrated stormwater management plan for the Arawhata sub-catchment to reduce sediment loss from horticultural farms and the stormwater drainage network
  • sustainable milk production plans for dairy farms in the catchment
  • introduction of a fish pass on the Hokio Weir to improve access to the lake for fish
  • habitat restoration on the Hokio Stream which links the lake to the sea.

Project update – February 2017

Since the beginning of the project, funding has been used to:

  • construct and operate a boat wash facility to reduce the risk of invasive species entering the lake
  • purchase a lake weed harvester
  • complete 4,397 metres of stream fencing
  • plant 7,100 riparian plants
  • install a fish passage
  • install two information signs
  • hold two community planting days
  • develop and implement drainage and erosion management plans for eight horticultural growers covering 368 hectares
  • purchase land for a sediment trap
  • develop sustainable milk production plans for 10 dairy farms covering a total area of 1,765 hectares. These contain soil maps, land-use capability information and nutrient budgets.


Boat wash facility
(Photo: Horowhenua District Council)

Find out more

Horizons Regional Council website