Wild Rivers: The Mokihinui

Meridian planned to build a dam on the Mokihinui river by flooding the 14 kilometre gorge which would have left 16 of our threatened species homeless and this wilderness area completely destroyed. 

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Where is this river found? 

The Mokihinui river lies at the top of the South Island

The Mokihinui river lies at the top of the South Island

The Mokihinui is found under the western shoulder of Kahurangi National Park at the top of the South Island. It is one of the most important river ecosystems in New Zealand.

 Flanked by beech forests, ancient podocarps, riotous displays of rata, and rimu festooned with kiekie, the river alternately dashes across granite and greywacke boulders, and glides through deep pools, as it twists and turns through the gorge.

Why's it so special? 

Living in the river are blue duck (whio), longfin eel (tuna), giant kokopu, and a rich array of other native species. The river and forests clothing the hillsides provide habitat for 16 threatened species. Long-tailed bats, western weka, kereru, and powelliphanta snails inhabit this ecological niche.
 

Blue Duck (whio)

One of only two torrent ducks in the world, the Blue Duck (whio)thrives in our fast-flowing rivers such as the Mohikinui. Damming the river will destroy their habitat, with the birds who live in the gorge perishing as a result.

Powelliphanta or giant land snail

Evolving millions of years ago, our threatened Powelliphanta or giant land snails are carnivorous, and largely confined to the North West of the South Island. A dam would flood all their lowland habitat, and interrupt their natural process of colonising through the gorge in flood events

Longfin eels

Longfin eels can live to over 100 years old, and migrate downstream once in their life to reproduce at sea. The dam would block migration. Eels are on the decline throughout the country due to loss of habitat through dams.

Western weka

Western weka are incredibly inquisitive native birds. Decline of weka populations has been dramatic. The gorge offers a valuable home for these iconic species. Great spotted kiwi also rummage through the forest floors here.

New Zealand’s own database of water-bodies of national importance ranks the Mokihinui 7th for its natural values.

What happened? 

At the mouth of the deeply incised gorge, Meridian Energy proposed a vast hydro electricity scheme –an 85 metre high dam that would have radically changed this spectacular river – turning it into a sluggish reservoir.

Forest & Bird, along with the Department of Conservation (DOC) and other NGOs had started the expensive and time-consuming task of appealing the resource consent decision to proceed with the dam until the plan was abandoned by Meridian in May 2012. 

 

 

What we want

To ensure this river stays wild and its towering forests remain untouched, we ask that the Mokihinui river and its extensive catchment be added to the adjacent Kahurangi National Park.

Not only will this safeguard the river from future hydro and mining proposals but it will allow Forest & Bird to better advocate for greater pest control.

To add the Mokihinui into Kahurangi National Park, DOC must initiate a Section 8 analysis of its ecological values. Fortunately, much of this work has been done as we prepared to fight to save the Mokihunui in the courts.  

You can encourage DOC to put the ‘Mokihinui in the Park’ by adding your name to our list of supporters