Wairarapa Moana Project

This page has information on the Wairarapa Moana Project. It  received Crown funding from the Fresh Start for Freshwater Clean-up Fund from 2012 to 2015 to address historical water quality issues.

Project details

Project cost

$2.2 million

Crown funding

$1 million


Wairarapa, Wellington Region


Wellington Regional Council, Department of Conservation, South Wairarapa District Council, Fish and Game NZ, Dairy NZ, Ducks Unlimited, Landowners


Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, Rangitāne o Wairarapa

Project purpose

To restore the wetland habitat around the edge of Lake Wairarapa and Lake Onoke (collectively known as Wairarapa Moana).

Project timeframe 2012-2015


Lake Wairarapa and Lake Onoke, linked by the Ruamahanga River and their surrounding wetland areas, are collectively known as Wairarapa Moana. They form the largest wetland complex in the southern North Island. This area is of national and international importance due to its significant cultural, ecological, recreational and natural character values. It is of high cultural value, particularly to Kahungunu ki Wairarapa and Rangitāne o Wairarapa. 

Lake Wairarapa and Lake Onoke have degraded water quality with high concentrations of nutrients, algal biomass and poor water clarity. The combined impacts of elevated nutrient levels and pressure from adjacent land use have been particularly detrimental to the lake edge wetlands.

Funded interventions

Funding was used for:

  • substantial earth works to restore the hydrology of the wetland
  • development and implementation of environmental farm plans (riparian fencing, wetland enhancement and improving effluent and fertiliser practice)
  • weed and pest control.

Final project update – December 2015

By the end of the project in December 2015 the following had been achieved:

  • planting of 70,000 native seedlings
  • completion of 20 kilometres  of riparian fencing
  • construction of five wetlands
  • completion of 430 hectares of aerial spraying
  • completion of 43 farm assessments
  • termination of 800 individual pests including, stoats, hedgehogs and feral cats.

Fencing and planting of the old Ruamahanga river which had been diverted 
(Photo: Tony Faulkner, Greater Wellington Regional Council)


Wetland rehabilitation of abandoned effluent ponds at Windy Farm
(Photo: Richard Parkes, Greater Wellington Regional Council)


Constructed wetland in progress at Oakridge farm
(Photo: Tony Silbery, Department of Conservation)


Some digger action - September 2014

The concept in reality

Drain redirected through wetland and back to drain

Flow control system can deliver variable flow from 1 to 10+ litres/second

Kaiwaiwai wetland construction
(Photo: John Paul Pratt Groundtruth)