Wai Kōkopu, the community-led programme to replenish and revitalise the health of the Waihī Estuary.

The Waihī estuary, located in Maketū, is in a poor and declining ecological state and does not consistently meet guidelines for safe swimming and shellfish gathering. 

Our programme is on a mission to change this. Together, with the community, we are harnessing the power of catchment-wide collaboration and innovation to build healthy, more resilient waterways that will heal the Waihī estuary. 

The unhealthy state of the Waihī estuary

One of the worst

It’s one of the five most degraded estuaries in the country.

Lost 97% of wetlands

Just 3% of the wetlands that once supported large native bird and fish populations remain.


E. Coli levels in the estuary continue to rise and are around 430% higher than what is safe to eat.  We need to bring E.Coli down by at last 50%. 

Unsafe food gathering

Poor freshwater quality feeding the estuary has resulted in seagrass loss, algal blooms and shellfish that are regularly unsafe to eat.

High nitrogen

Nitrogen and phosphorus loads to the estuary are high; we need to bring total nitrogen down by 66%  and Phosphorus down by 30%.

Unsafe swimming

Mahinga kai (natural resource) and recreational values have declined.

Our programme

To return the Waihī estuary to a healthy ecological state, we are focusing on initiatives from bespoke environmental farm plans to riparian planting and educational sessions at a sub-catchment and catchment level.

By fostering awareness and shared responsibility for the health of the Waihī Estuary, we hope to empower our community to embrace better practices, decisions and outcomes for the lands, waters and biodiversity.

Our measures for success are simple - when the kōkopu, are flourishing from the sea to the mountains and our estuary is rich with giant pīpī again, we will then know the Waihī Estuary is returning to good health.

Fly the catchment

Sign up to our monthly newsletter

Contact us

The Waihi Estuary

Bay of Plenty