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Auckland Council

Freshwater report card, Waitematā reporting area 2016

Area grade: D​

What makes up this grade?

The overall grade is made up of five indicators:

Water quality: Water samples are tested for temperature, oxygen concentration, turbidity and the levels of pH, ammonia and nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus). The results of this testing are compared against guidelines for Auckland to produce a water quality index.

Flow patterns: This involves monitoring the hydrologic connectivity of the river to upstream and downstream reaches and the floodplain using the Stream Ecological Valuation (SEV), which is a method of assessing the ecological health of our rivers.

Nutrient cycling: This involves monitoring the inputs and processing of minerals, particulates and contaminants using the SEV biogeochemical functions.

Habitat quality: This involves monitoring the diversity and quality of habitats using the SEV habitat provision functions.

Biodiversity: Field assessments and samples are collected to assess the type and amount of native plants and animals using the SEV biodiversity functions.

Quick facts

  • The reporting area covers 19KM2 representing 0.4% of the region – the smallest of the reporting areas
  • The land cover is mainly urban (91%) with small pockets of native, exotic and pastoral vegetation
  • The extent of impervious surface (hard surfaces) is the highest in the region (71%) and very high when compared with the regional average of 9%

Monitoring background and interpretation

Auckland Council’s State of the Environment (SoE) monitoring programme has been building a record of Auckland’s environment for more than 25 years. This information is critical to the effective management of Auckland’s natural environment, after all, you can’t manage what you don’t monitor.

The monitoring programme shows there is a strong relationship between the health of rivers and the type of land cover in the surrounding catchment. Rivers that drain through forested catchments (particularly native forests) typically have excellent water quality and ecology, while rivers that drain from urban catchments typically have poor water quality and ecology.

The health of Waitematā’s rivers is considered to be impaired. Urban development has led to a high level of impervious surface in the area, which prevents rainfall from soaking into the ground. This has follow-on effects for rivers in the area leading to high water temperatures, changes to the natural flow patterns and increased pollution from contaminated stormwater.

Wai Care Waitematā

Wai Care is a water quality education, monitoring and action programme managed by Auckland Council, for schools and community groups in the Auckland region.

The programme aims to educate people about freshwater issues and encourage and facilitate action in the local community, from water quality monitoring to streamside planting and litter clean-ups.

The following table shows achievements of the Wai Care Programme in Waitematā during the 2015/2016 financial year.

​Achievement​Total Waitematā 2015/16​Total Auckland 2015/16
​Active groups​7​152
​Sites monitored​6​256
​Education sessions8​373
​Students involved in education147​11118
​Action events​6​106
​People involved in action​253​4217
​Native trees planted​400​28577

For more information on Wai Care, or to view site data for your area, go to or call 09 301 0101 and ask for Wai Care.