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Kopurererua River realignment to restore path of Taurikura

Ko au te awa, Ko te awa ko au (I am the river and the river is me).

In partnership with Ngāi Tamarāwaho and Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Council is leading the work to realign and restore the Kopurererua River. The realignment work will get under way from 1 February, along with the creation of a new cycle path and a new wetland at the Kopurererua Valley Reserve, a 364-hectare inner city reserve in Tauranga.

When Kaleb Winiata, Ngāi Tamarāwaho representative, first heard that the Kopurererua River will be realigned to reinstate the path of his hapū’s kaitiaki (guardian) Taurikura, he felt proud, excited and confident about the future ongoing partnership between Ngāi Tamarāwaho and Tauranga City Council.

Taurikura was a chief’s daughter who fled her village in shame after refusing to collect water for her koro (grandfather). She turned herself into a ngārara (lizard) and swam the Kopurererua River out to Tauranga Moana. She landed on the rocky island of Karewa, near Matakana, and is the ancestor of the tuatara that live on the island.

“The river is linked to our identity. For the hapū, the Waikareao Estuary and the Kopurererua Valley are collectively regarded as being the kete kai (food baskets) of Ngāi Tamarāwaho,” says Kaleb.

“The swamps (once navigable) and the Kopurererua River were valuable for their fish, particularly eels, kahawai, mullet, parore and īnanga (whitebait). Harekeke (flax) and raupo were all important resources for our people in their various kainga (homes) scattered up and down the valley.

“With the realignment of this river, we’ll see fish and bird life return to the valley, we’ll see the spawning of īnanga, and we’ll have a place that everyone can visit and enjoy, from cyclists and walkers, to anglers, community groups and whānau,” says Kaleb.

Commission Chair Anne Tolley says February marks a significant milestone in Council’s relationship with Ngāi Tamarāwaho.
“The Kopurererua Valley is special to Ngāi Tamarāwaho. Realignment of the Kopurererua River was identified early by the hapū as being important to them. The first stage of this was completed in 2006.
“Tauranga will benefit from this work both culturally and environmentally,” says Anne.   
Director of Spaces and Places at Tauranga City Council, Paul Dunphy, says this project will continue the work to create green destinations of interest for residents to enjoy on a daily basis, as well as attracting visitors to the city.
“The Kopurererua Valley Reserve is a very precious place in Tauranga Moana.”

Kopurererua Valley Reserve

Kopurererua Valley Reserve.

Katherine Glasgow, Land Management Officer, Bay of Plenty Regional Council says the realignment of the Kopurererua River channel and subsequent creation of wetlands would have significant benefits for the health of both the river and the Waikareao Estuary.
“The water quality will be markedly improved due to a wetland’s ability to hold sediment and filter contaminants before entering a harbour.
"The results of this key partnership project will go a long way to enhancing the mauri (life force) of the Kopurererua River and ultimately provide climate change resilience,” says Katherine.

Artist impression of the new cycle path and wetland.

Artist impression of the new cycle path and wetland.

Artist impression of the new cycle path and wetland.

Construction will begin from Tuesday 1 February 2022 and is estimated to be completed in 2024.

For more information on the river realignment, and other great things happening at the reserve, visit the Kopurererua Valley Reserve Restoration webpage.


  • During construction the reserve will still be open to the public and users. No area will be closed. Temporary diversions and signage will be in place as required. These will be clearly marked.
  • The project will deliver the following benefits:
    • The realignment of the river channel, and the subsequent creation of a wetland will slow the flow of the water, improving water quality, assisting in flood control, and ultimately providing climate change resilience. Approximately 200,000 plants will be planted to restore the valley and assist with this resilience.
    • The realignment of the river will recreate fish and bird habitats, and help to restore the mauri that has been lost over time. It will restore the path followed by Taurikura as she swam out to Tauranga Moana, and finally landed at Karewa Island.
    • Community access and connection to the reserve will significantly increase. 
Posted: Jan 25, 2022,
Categories: General,


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