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Wairākei landscape plan

Wairakei landscape plan

Tauranga City Council has prepared a landscape plan for part of the 15km long Te Ara o Wairākei Stream reserve corridor.

The landscape plan will provide a template for enhancement of 15km of stormwater reserve, stretching from Pacific View Road to the Te Tumu boundary, over the next ten years. It includes features such as planting, cultural recognition, signage and pathways and recognises the recreational value of the reserve for users and people who live nearby, and the cultural significance the area to the iwi and hapu who have been associated with the area for many centuries.

The plan provides for structures, cultural recognition and traditional practices in the reserve. Over the last decade, Tauranga City Council’s investment in dual shared walking and cycling pathways has also helped the Wairākei Reserve grow into a valuable recreation and commuter route.

However, the land on either side of the Wairākei Stream is primarily a stormwater reserve, which is designed to manage excess stormwater after heavy rain events and protect houses from flooding. Improving water quality is also an important aspect of the landscape plan.

May 2022 - Media release - Te Ara o Wairākei Planting to Go Ahead

Upgrade and planting benefits:

Structure and amenity

  • Some plants have berries and flowers attractive to native birdlife and bees, encouraging pollination beneficial to local residential gardens
  • Water’s edge planting reduces grass clippings to fall into the water after mowing, which is detrimental to water quality
  • Seating and shade trees added where suitable next to paths to enhance the recreational value and wildlife habitat. 

Updated design

The revised planting approach has been developed to reflect feedback from tangata whenua as well as local residents. We acknowledge the passion residents of Royal Palm Beach have for this area and their contribution to the early development and maintenance of the stormwater reserve. The new plan allows for regular access to the water, while trying to achieve the objective of improving the ecological and cultural values of the waterway as required by the agreed landscape plan. 

New plan for Area 2 – 2022

The revised plan, developed after considering all feedback, includes larger areas that will be free from planting, enabling water views and access to the water edge.

Due to a reduction in planting, the ecological/stormwater treatment that would usually occur will reduce as this approach does not fully align with the original plans.

The 2022 Area 2 plan has spaced low riparian planting in sections on the water edge. Below is an indication of the planting you can expect to see in Area 2. 

Planting plan area two - updated

For more details on the planting, please view the report to the commissioners here

The new Planting Plan is a compromise 

  • It has been our intention to listen to concerns and find a middle ground. 
  • Not planting is not an option.
  • Representatives of both PRRA and iwi have agreed.

The Commissioners have identified three key points that drive the Te Ara o Wairākei landscape project:

  • To ensure the reserve reflects and incorporates cultural heritage and significance of the area to tangata whenua. The improvement to Te Ara Ō Wairākei is of high importance to the iwi, as demonstrated in this opinion piece on their website.
  • The need to take on board the opinion of with the adjacent landowners, wider community as well as tangata whenua
  • The benefits of planting, including habitat creating for a diverse range of wildlife (as below).

The intention of the Te Ara o Wairākei landscape plan is to:  

  • Improve the recreational and ecological values of the reserve 
  • Protect its function as stormwater corridor
  • Recognise the cultural values of this important community asset

Riparian planting of this stormwater corridor is happening in context of a national policy driving improved quality of fresh water for New Zealand.

riparian planting


The predominantly Council owned Wairākei Stream Corridor is located within Papamoa and extends for approximately 14km before reversing via a 4km long blind ‘back arm’ in Te Tumu. The stream relies on in-stream storage and soakage for the management of stormwater and mitigation of flooding within the existing Papamoa area, the urban growth area in Wairākei (under development) and also the future development area of Te Tumu. 

Council holds a Comprehensive Stormwater Discharge Consent to address stormwater management and the discharge of treated stormwater runoff in Papamoa. This stipulated a 100% stormwater storage mitigation requirement as a means to mitigate stormwater discharges and associated flood risk.

The Comprehensive Stormwater Discharge Consent was varied in 2015, after appeal proceedings and mediation, to improve the economic viability of land development in the area. New conditions were added at this time requiring the preparation and implementation of both Landscape and Cultural Plans for the Wairākei Stream corridor by 2025 (one Cultural Plan for each of the 3 Iwi groups who were a party to the appeal). 

Next steps

Timeframe for planting  

The project team is talking to local plant suppliers about stock availability for this planting season (winter 2022). Depending on plant availability, we plan to start putting some plants in this season and plant the remainder of the area next season (winter 2023).

History of Te Ara O Wairākei

Long time Pāpāmoa residents might remember this waterway was once known as the Pāpāmoa Main Drain. In 2004 the original name of the stream, Wairākei, was reinstated and in recognition, more recently, the reserve was named Te Ara O Wairākei - the path of the Wairākei.

The stormwater function of the corridor has a history that pre-dates residential development by many decades and has been maintained by successive Boards and Council organisations.

Until 1910, the Wairākei Stream headwaters flowed down from Pāpāmoa Hills and Otawa. The headwaters merged with the dune wetlands of Omanu and Pāpāmoa, west of Domain Road. The Omanu and Pāpāmoa wetlands (low lying swamps between dune ridges, still visible today on undeveloped land) extended for kilometres between Omanu and the Kaituna River. The Wairākei Stream flowed east towards the Kaituna River, before turning west again and flowing out to sea at the Taylor Reserve estuary.

The Wairākei was a tidal river and navigable, with people travelling by waka to and from pā in the vast wetlands and dune plains. The Wairākei river was fringed with raupo and manuka and contained an abundance of fish, which could be seen from the banks in the clear water.

By the early 1800s flax became a commodity for trade. Land was drained and large-scale planting and harvesting supplied at least two flax mills near the Wairākei Stream and Kaituna River. Later that century swampland was converted to farmland.

From the late 1800s, the wetlands were managed by Land Drainage Boards. When the East Coast Main Trunk railway line was constructed in 1910, the Wairākei Stream’s headwaters were diverted and the stream mouth silted up causing flooding. To drain the wetlands and lower groundwater, Harrisons Cut artificial outlet was excavated in the early 1940s. By the 1960s, the Wairākei Stream estuary was filled in and a second artificial outlet installed (Grant Place weir) to continue to maintain lower groundwater levels and drain stormwater.

Below you will find a few questions and answers that will provide more insight into this project and what it’s aiming to achieve.

Tauranga City Council has started work to enhance sections of the Wairakei Stream reserve as part of the first phase of implementing the Te Ara o Wairakei landscape and cultural management plans. We’ve consulted with the public and heard your aspirations for the Wairakei Stream corridor and are looking to address these while fulfilling the agreed plans as required by the BOPRC issued resource consent.

The landscape plan is a condition of Council’s comprehensive stormwater consent for Papamoa and is designed to enhance the 15-kilometre-long stormwater reserve – between Pacific View Road in Papamoa and the Te Tumu boundary, including Taylor Reserve - encouraging people’s use and enjoyment of the area. 

The intent is to protect and enhance ecological and cultural values, including the planting an estimated 500,000 native plants along the stream margins. 

Besides managing stormwater, the reserve will include more walkways and cycling routes. It will also express the heritage and cultural significance that the area has for Tangata Whenua, through cultural art, signage and traditional practices in the reserve. 

Public consultation happened at the start of the project, and community feedback has been integrated into the design.

Work will be completed in two stages. Through to the end of 2025, work on stage one will be taking place through the Wairakei area, including the landward side of the Wairakei Stream from Pacific View Road through to Golden Sands Drive. 

Work on stage two will be taking place through the Te Tumu area. This area encompasses the rural zoned land from the eastern end of Papamoa Beach Road, eastward to the Kaituna River. Plans for this area will be further developed following rezoning. 

As part of the plan, 15 kilometres of the Wairākei stormwater reserve will be enhanced with new plants, landscaping, park furniture, signage and upgrades to the existing amenities. 

This includes: 

  • 11km of new cycleways and pathways - A series of bridges, cycleways, pathways, and boardwalks  have been installed along the reserve and walkways widened to allow for shared use.  
  • 25 hectares of vegetation enhancement - This includes trimming, crown lifting and removal of vegetation in some areas to improve safety, creation of 51 sediment retention wetlands, wetland and shrub planting, and park benches to sit and relax.
  • New signage - Signage identifying exits, roads, and wayfinding within the reserve will be installed, as well as special signs that recognise places of cultural and historical importance.

Throughout the year, certain phases of the work will require the use of machinery to undertake the landscape works. Disruption to residential areas is expected to be minimal, and each stage of work will progress quickly. 

Wairākei Landscape plan flyer (2mb pdf)

  • Of the 919 survey respondents, 34% think planting along the entire corridor is a good idea, 16% think it’s good but want to exclude ponds/Palm Beach West and 20% don’t think planting anywhere is good. Of the group that say yes, 3% live in Palm Beach West.
  • An additional 28% of respondents didn’t choose yes or no, but selected ‘other’. Of this group, 64% say yes to planting conditional to suggestions such as ‘not in certain areas’ or have more specific requests.

Wairākei survey summary report (789kb pdf)

We are aware of some misinformation about the objectives of this project published on signs in the reserve and a related website. The information provided on the website mixes opinion with fact which isn’t in everybody’s interest. To ensure the community receives facts, we list a few key ones about planting:

  • Benefits of riparian planting are scientifically proven, they form part of the national drive to improve freshwater quality and address some of the very issues people in the area are concerned about, most importantly the quality of the water and stabilising banks.
  • Short growing natives have been chosen to retain water views.
  • Riparian planting will also improve biodiversity, by reducing water temperature and improving habitat for native resident species.
  • Planting is a fundamental part of the landscape and cultural management plans for the stormwater reserve.
  • The reserve is council owned land that forms part of a stormwater network managed for the benefit of the wider community. It is available for public use and enjoyment under the specific requirements of a resource consent. 

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If you have any questions or would like further information contact us at
07 577 7000


  • Consent variation drives landscape plan design and consultation

    2015 to early 2017
  • Planting starts in Area 1 and 2  – including community planting day

    April to June 2019
  • Planting in Area 3 (Domain Rd to Parton Rd)

    Starts - June 2019
  • Planting paused due to resident feedback in Area 2 (Palm Beach West) 

    May 2020 - ongoing
  • Designs for Area 2 (Palm Beach West) and Area 5 (Golden Sands Drive to Stage 2 Te Tumu Boundary) being revisited 

  • Engagement with Palm Beach West and Area 5 communities proposed 

    2021 - early 2022
  • Timing for planting in Palm Beach West and Area 5 

    first half 2022 (TBC)
  • Landscape plan implementation completed 



Document library

Stage 1: Wairākei landscape plan

Te Ara O Wairākei & Taylor Reserve Landscape Design Report pages 1-41 (484kb pdf)
Appendix 1 pages 42-63 (360kb pdf)
Appendix 2 pages 64-194 (16mb pdf)
Appendix 3 pages 195-208 (28mb pdf)
Appendix 4 pages 209-251 (31mb pdf)


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