Dunedin & Coast FMU (Freshwater Management Unit)
We are developing a Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP) in partnership with Kāi Tahu whānui, and with feedback from the greater Otago community.
Join the kōrero on the proposed direction of the Plan to care for Otago's lakes, rivers and streams and guide the activities that impact them.
We have a summary of proposed new rules and regulations that we encourage you to look over.
Read all about the draft Plan and the proposed new rules and regulations:
About the area
The Dunedin & Coast Freshwater Management Unit (FMU) spans over 1,000 square kilometres and runs from just south of Karitane down to the mouth of the Clutha/Mata-Au. Dunedin city is the largest urban area with the largest population in Otago. Average rainfall is 738mm per year. Main catchments are the Waitati River, Leith Stream and Kaikorai Stream catchments within Dunedin city and the Tokomairaro (Tokomairiro) River in the south.
Except for Tokomairaro River catchment, many are short river or stream catchments, some associated with estuaries and/or wetlands, especially where the Taieri River cuts through.
The area has a marine-temperate climate and outstanding features, including a natural character and form of coastal landscape, e.g., Otago Peninsula; ecological values, e.g., cloud forests of the Leith and Ōrokonui Ecosanctuary; healthy estuaries, e.g., Hoopers/Papanui, Blueskin, Akatore, Pūrākaunui; wetlands, e.g., Swampy Summit Swamp; notable wildlife, e.g., hoiho, northern royal albatross, seals, sea lions, red-billed gulls, black-billed gulls; and healthy marine habitats. It is also home to threatened species, including lamprey in coastal streams.
Māori settlement dates back to around 1250 AD, with moa supporting a growing population. The rivers, estuaries, and lagoons in the Dunedin coastal area, together with the Otago Harbour, were significant mahika kai (gathering resources) that supported numerous Kāi Tahu settlements in the area.
The whaling industry, then the gold rush in the mid 1800s, attracted many Europeans (mainly Scottish) and eventually lead to the establishment of Dunedin city.
While freshwater policies might be designed and applied specifically to the Dunedin & coast FMU, their impacts may be felt beyond the FMU boundary. Hence the rest of the Dunedin City area (including Mosgiel and surrounding area up to Middlemarch, which are part of the Taieri FMU but are all within one hour driving from Dunedin City centre) are combined with the Dunedin & Coast FMU when presenting socio-economic information. This combined area is referred to as Dunedin and surrounds.
In 2018, the area encompassing Dunedin and surrounds was home to around 130,000 residents (or nearly 60% of the population of Otago). In the 12 years between 2006 and 2018, there was a 7% (or 8,100 people) increase in population, which is lower than the Otago Region (+16%) and New Zealand (+17%). Most residents (nearly 80%) live in Dunedin City centre area, while the remainder is split fairly evenly between Mosgiel and surrounding area (10%), and smaller towns and rural areas (10%).
Nearly two in three Otago residents’ livelihoods are directly reliant on the water resources in this FMU, from domestic water consumption and discharge to commercial and industrial water use and discharge.
The economy in Dunedin and surrounds is more diverse than other parts of the Otago Region. Residents are likely to be working in Tourism Related industries, Health Care and Social Assistance, Education and Training, Construction, or Public Administration and Safety. Employment in the primary sector is relatively small, providing around 2% of jobs. The large residential population and approximate two million visitors annually (pre-COVID 19) has been putting increasing pressure on water use (water takes and discharges of pollutants or contaminants to water) and its infrastructure.
An understanding of Māori history and the Māori economy is essential for policy development and policy impact assessment. Not only does pre-European Māori history help shape modern day New Zealand, but the Māori economy is also integral to the New Zealand economic system. ORC is partnering with Aukaha and Te Ao Marama to develop an overview of Kāi Tahu history and economy. This work will be included in the economic impact assessment, available 2023.
Dunedin & Coast Freshwater Management Unit and Lower Taieri Economic Snapshot
The Dunedin & Coast FMU runs from Karitane in the north to the Clutha/Mata-Au mouth in the south. The distinctive FMU encompasses Dunedin City, the largest urban area with the largest population in Otago. The average rainfall is 738mm per year. The main catchments are the Waitati River, Leith Stream and Kaikorai Stream catchments within Dunedin City and the Tokomairaro River in the southern part of the FMU.
The Dunedin & Coast FMU has a marine-temperate climate and many outstanding features, including the natural character and form of coastal landscape (e.g., Otago Peninsula), ecological values including forests (cloud forests of the Leith and Ōrokonui Ecosanctuary), healthy estuaries (e.g., Hoopers/Papanui, Blueskin, Tokomairaro, Akatore, Purakaunui), wetlands (e.g., Swampy Summit Swamp), notable wildlife (e.g., hoiho, northern royal albatross, seals, sea lions, red-billed gulls, black-billed gulls), and healthy marine habitats. It is also home to threatened species (e.g., lamprey in coastal streams).