June Newsletter 2024

Collaboration & Partnership

Community Catchment Plan

Community Wellbeing

Economic Wellbeing



Healthy Ecosystems

Risks to our Catchment

Rural Development

Take Action

Te Taiao


Urban Development

WAI Action Groups

JUNE 2024 banner - photo of water going through mesh filters to test for microplastics
Our June newsletter is bursting at the seams with news – including an upcoming volunteer event, a new tool for viewing the health of our catchment and the latest on our microplastics research project, A Teeny Tiny Truth.
National Volunteer Week banner - help clean up our water with WAI Wanaka

Cleaning up the Cardrona

The 16th to the 22nd of June marks Te Wiki Tūao ā-Motu / National Volunteer Week. Join us on Thursday, the 20th of June for an epic clean-up event of the Ōrau / Cardrona River alongside Love Wānaka and Wastebusters.

Cleaning up the Cardrona event poster, join WAI Wanaka, Love Wanaka and Wastebusters in cleaning up the river

Date: Thursday, 20 June ⁠

Time: 10am – 12pm ⁠

Location: Cardrona River Bridge (off of Ballantyne Rd past Wastebusters- look for the WAI flag)⁠

The rubbish we find will be sorted and recorded into the national Litter Intelligence database. ⁠

Big thanks to our ‘Cleaning up the Cardrona’ supporters: Wanaka Civil and Interlink Ltd. – who are kindly bringing their trailers along to help collect the big stuff, as well as Mitre 10 Mega Wānaka for providing a donation through their burger & sausage sizzle.

Catchment Health Dashboard banner - stay up to date with the health of our Upper Clutha waters

How healthy is our catchment?

When you hear the words catchment health, what comes to mind? Some may focus on the health of freshwater, others on the whenua, and others on the social wellbeing of our communities.

The truth is, catchment health encompasses all of these facets and more, illustrating the complex connections between environmental and social health.

Last year, Environmental Accounting Services (EAS) helped us create a framework to assess the Upper Clutha Catchment’s health using six indicators: land use change, water quality, invasive species, greenhouse gas emissions, climate variables, and social wellbeing.

The framework serves as a prototype, intentionally designed as a starting point rather than a comprehensive set of indicators. It represents a stepping stone, one that we hope to adapt and expand over time as resources and funding become available.

We are excited to announce that our ‘Catchment Health’ dashboard is now live for our communities to view and scroll through. This interactive tool brings the framework to life in a visually engaging and user-friendly format.

A huge thank-you goes out to Environmental Accounting Services, Lake Wanaka Tourism, Wanaka Business Chamber, Wao, Community Networks/LINK, The Young Environmental Collective, Otago Regional Council and Queenstown Lakes District Council for their efforts towards this initiative. This mahi was funded by the Our Land National Science Challenge.

microplastics in lake wanaka "a teeny tiny truth" banner

Microplastics research update

We are still buzzing from the great turnout in Hāwea for our most recent Adopt a Drain session – a record number of 15 attendees!

PhD student Veronica Rotman (University of Auckland, University of Otago) has completed the sampling phase of her research in Lake Wānaka and its surrounding tributaries. A big endeavour over four seasons with the help of 30 community volunteers. From boat owners to skippers and those assisting with sampling, it’s been a blend of fun and hard work.

Now, Veronica is spending countless hours in the University of Otago’s lab, observing and recording the quantity of microplastics found, and working towards identifying the types of plastic polymers she is finding. This winter, Veronica plans to also research microplastics in snow, making comparisons between remote mountain areas and ski fields.

Veronice Rotman in her lab doing research on the water of lake wanaka

Though this research is not yet complete, microplastics were found at all sites Veronica sampled, including more remote areas like the Makarore / Makarora River. Her research highlights the pervasive nature of microplastic pollution.

microplastics found in lake wanaka and surrounding rivers; images are macro view vs micro view of makarora river
Makarore / Makarora River: macro vs. micro view.
Sieving water to find microplastics

After trialing three different methods, Veronica found the ‘sieve method’ to be the best option for communities to sample microplastics in freshwater. It’s practical, inexpensive and effective. We’ll use this method in our upcoming citizen science project, where volunteers can gather data on microplastics in our lakes and rivers, building on Veronica’s research over time.

Big thanks to Otago Science into Action for supporting this citizen science initiative.

Our first community microplastics sampling session (out on the lake followed by in the WAI lab) will take place in July. Sound like something you might be interested in? Email getinvolved@waiwanaka.nz to learn more.

We’re also excited to announce the release of a short film documenting Veronica’s journey and our community’s connection to our lakes and rivers. Stay tuned!

rural update banner

What do electric tractors, composting, delicious strawberries and native fish all have in common?

They were all a part of our epic field trips on-farm with 190+ Year 8 students this year. Our Embracing te Taiao – on the Farm blog is finally live on our website – prepared to be inspired by the amazing mahi local landowners are undertaking!

Speaking of mahi – we’ve been busy working with farmers and rural catchment groups on their conservation goals through our On-farm Environmental Support Programme – funded by MPI. Do you know a local landowner who might be interested? Forward the link below to spread the word:

on-farm environmental support programme with WAI Wanaka

Celebration of two-year research project

Knowledge into Action for Te Taiao (KIATT) was one of three place-based pilots run through the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge Programme.

Recently completed, KIATT was a two-year research project instigated to demonstrate how the weaving of Mātauranga Māori, science and local knowledge can revitalise Te Taiao and progress land management changes that help to create value chain and market opportunities in the Upper Clutha.

A lot of momentum has been gained over the last two years. We aim to sustain and expand these efforts, supporting our communities in a collective effort to increase the vitality of Te Taiao – our natural world.

knowledge into action for te taiao event by WAI Wanaka - a talk and panel inside Glendhu Station Woolshed

As a way to celebrate this mahi and look ahead, we hosted an event at the Glendhu Station woolshed. An evening full of great discussions and delicious kai.

Thank-you to our evening’s panel speakers: Bex Trotter, Cody Tucker and Ewan Mackie, our MC: Nick Tansley, Jana Davis for opening the event, the supporting businesses: Glendhu Station, B.Effect Brewing, Ripe Wānaka, Te Kākano, Wānaka Wastebusters, and Delicious Cooking, our amazing volunteers and Our Land and Water for their support over the last two years.

digital dive banner

A new edition to our newsletter

Here we’ll share freshwater news, recommended podcasts and more.

Article: NIWA scientists have mapped the whole of Lake Wānaka in incredible detail

Article: ‘Burn Dry, Breath Easy’ tips for winter

Short Video: Matariki Day Explained by Hahana

Podcast: DOC Sounds of Science episode 27: In a galaxiid far, far away (about our native fish)

Podcast: AG in Conversation: Will farming for nature give NZ a big leg up on the global stage?

community events with WAI Wanaka banner

Get involved in our upcoming events this month

19 June 4:30pm-6:30pm: Volunteer South’s ‘Find your perfect match’ volunteer event – at the Lake Wānaka Centre, we’ll see you there!

20 June 10am-12pm: Cleaning up the Cardrona

24 June: Out on the roto visual clarity workshop email getinvolved@waiwanaka.nz to express interest

28 June 2pm-6pm: Matariki at the Wānaka lakefront – we’ll see you there! 

17 July: Outlet beach clean-up & microplastics sampling – stay tuned for details  

24 July 5pm-7pm: Microplastics short film and kōrero at the Wānaka Library – stay tuned for details 

30 July: First microplastics lab session – email jose@waiwanaka.nz to express interest