Ruataniwha Dam opposed by Forest & Bird

Forest & Bird is one of several groups fighting an irrigation scheme on Hawke’s Bay’s Ruataniwha Plains.

The dam will flood a significant area of podocarp forest, putting several threatened species at risk and reducing water quality in the Tukituki and other rivers. 

The dam and reservoir on the Makaroro River will flood 50 ha of podocarp forest and a further 140 ha of regenerating forest to create a large body of water, second to Lake Waikaremoana in the Hawke’s Bay region. 

A total of 12 threatened and at-risk species will be imperilled by this dam, including our pied stilt, NZ pipit and fernbird.

Safeguarding our Hawke's Bay rivers 

Forest & Bird and several other groups have put in an application for a Water Conservation Order (WCO) for the Ngaruroro & Clive rivers.  A WCO gives a river similar legal protection to a national park. Only fifteen rivers in NZ have this kind of protection. The Ngaruroro River is of particular interest to Forest & Bird because it contains nationally vulnerable species such as our banded dotterel, NZ dabchick and whio (blue duck).  


The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is backing the $600 million dam and irrigation scheme and needs a plan change to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Policy Statement to allow the project to proceed.

Its applications for a resource consent for the dam and to change the Tukituki catchment plan are before a government-appointed Board of Inquiry.

It is estimated that the irrigation scheme will lead to 200 new farms in the region. The run-off of fertilisers and large volumes of cow urine into the Tukituki and other rivers will have a serious impact on their water quality. 

Several declining freshwater fish species such as longfin eel, inanga, lamprey, koara and dwarf glaxias are found in this catchment.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council plans to significantly increase allowable nitrogen limits in the rivers. 

And although the scheme aims to be phosphorous neutral, the high nitrate levels will be risky for water quality and native fish.