The plan


The Whaka-Ora Healthy Harbour plan is a catchment management plan with a vision of restoring the ecological and cultural health of Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour as mahinga kai, for generations to come.

It’s a long-term vision, which will require the effort, leadership and commitment of many people, across the catchment and across multiple generations. Everyone has a role to play.

The plan outlines sixty-seven prioritised actions that will help turn the vision of a healthy harbour – te whaka ora – into reality. Some of these actions will require leadership from the five partner organisations, but many will be led by members and groups within harbour communities.

Work on some of the actions is already underway. Head to the Project map to see what’s going on, and how you can get involved.

Or, keep reading to find out more about what’s in the plan.


The Whaka-Ora Healthy Harbour plan has been developed by a partnership of five organisations — Environment Canterbury, Te Hapū o Ngāti Wheke, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Christchurch City Council and Lyttelton Port Company — in collaboration with the Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour community. The plan came out of an agreement reached during the development of the Lyttelton Port Recovery Plan, which was written to assist the rebuild and recovery of the Port following extensive damage sustained during the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes. During this time, the Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour community voiced their desire for agencies and the community to work together to improve the health of Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour. As a result, a commitment was made between the five partners to develop a catchment management plan for Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour as a whole: ki uta ki tai, or from the mountains to the sea.

The Whaka-Ora Healthy Harbour plan was launched in March 2018. The five partners will continue to provide leadership and support to the community, as the plan is put into action.

How does the plan work?

Part Ⅰ

Part Ⅱ

Explains the vision for Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour, across the six ecological bands or areas that make up the catchment. These bands are: rocky outcrops and forests, hills and lowlands, streams, wetlands and saltmarsh, taihua/foreshore, and the harbour itself. Part Ⅱ describes:

  • The current state of each ecological band
  • What we want it to be like in the future
  • The action we need to take to reach this future state

Part Ⅲ

Gives the specific actions recommended by the plan. These actions will contribute to restoring the health of the harbour across the six ecological bands. The actions are organised into four key focus areas:

  • Erosion and sedimentation
  • Pollution
  • Terrestrial indigenous biodiversity
  • Marine indigenous biodiversity

Purpose of the plan

The kaupapa or purpose of the plan is the restore the ecological and cultural health of Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour as mahinga kai.

What is mahinga kai?

Mahinga kai is about the value of natural resources that sustain life, including the life of people. The concept of mahinga kai includes resources such as food, fibre, and medicines, and the places and habitats from which these resources are gathered. Mahinga kai also includes the customary practices used in harvesting these resources, and the way natural resources are shared amongst people and protected for generations to come.

Some examples of mahinga kai in practise are

  • Spending time in the environment and building up an intimate knowledge of the tides, the winds, the best walking tracks and where different species live
  • Teaching children how to dig for shellfish, catch a fish and gather harakeke/flax
  • Working to protect habitats, so that bird populations can breed and thrive
  • Being aware of your own impact on the natural environment

Whāinga - Goals

Our goal is to restore Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour to an environment that is abundant, healthy and interconnected.



There will be an abundance of native species within the Whakaraupō/Lyttelton harbour catchment. People of all ages and abilities will be able to gather shellfish from the shore, and fishers will always come home with enough for their families. Native birdsong will be an everyday sound, penguins and dolphins will be commonplace in the harbour, and native plants will cover the landscape.



Our waterways will be planted, thriving ecosystems. Sedimentation, pest species and pollution will not be limiting the growth of native plants and animals. People will not have to think twice about eating kai/food they have caught from the harbour or sourced from the land.



The community will continue to be interconnected with Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour. Locals and visitors of all abilities will easily access natural recreation and mahinga kai sites. Locals are proud to be guardians of the harbour and are passionate about the future of their home, ensuring future generations can experience what makes this place unique.

Pou - Guiding principles

Pou are carved wooden posts, which where traditionally placed in the environment to guide people to key locations. Three pou, or guiding principles, were used to guide decision-making while the plan was being developed. We will keep using them, as we put the plan into action.


Change is needed — and everyone can be change-maker, with the power to influence the future state of Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour.

Mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei - For us and our children after us

Restoring the catchment is a lofty vision that will take more than one generation to fulfil.


Working together is important to creating real, sustained change for our harbour.

Learn about Whaka-Ora Healthy Harbour projects