Urban waterway restoration well underway in Christchurch thanks to Jobs for Nature

We are supporting the Styx Living Laboratory Trust through $4.12 million of Jobs for Nature funding to breathe life back into the Pūharakekenui (Styx) River and create local jobs in Christchurch.  

“It’s going to bring back the birds, fish, the invertebrates, the native plants and the people,” says Antony Shadbolt from the Christchurch City Council (CCC).  

“This project encapsulates Te Mana o Te Wai, putting the health of freshwater first—a principle central to the freshwater work programme, and it’s incredible to see a community come together to reinstate the Pūharakekenui (Styx) River catchment to its natural, healthy habitat,” said Minister Parker.  

A once polluted area now has resourcing and backing from the local community, as well as project partners who include Christchurch City Council and Kahukura Rongoā Māori Trust, to allow for the catchment return to its natural state. 

“It makes me feel joyful because we are making a difference to the waterway and the banks of the river.” 

Aperahama Kipa, Kahukura Rongoā Māori Trust

The Styx Living Laboratory Trust was established in 2002 and aims to connect all the surrounding nature reserves around the Pūharakekenui (Styx) River to create a holistic, restored habitat for all.  

The Pūharakekenui (Styx) River is one of several spring-fed river systems that originate and flow through the city of Christchurch. This catchment, located on the northern urban edge, is approximately 70 square kilometres. 

“We can really get things happening with the river, creating employment, creating an interest and awareness in the Styx,” says John Knox, Trustee of the Styx Living Laboratory Trust. 

To date, the project has controlled over 8 hectares of woody weeds such as grey willow and planted over 24,000 native plants in the catchment. 

Over the next 5 years, the project will create around 8 full-time employment (FTE) positions. The jobs will focus on eradicating pest plants and protecting freshwater quality.  

Anita Spencer, Styx Living Laboratory Trust programme manager, says, “It’s going to be really good training for people in the conservation field.” 

There are opportunities for the community and children to get involved and be part of the meaningful contribution towards protecting nature in the Christchurch region.  

“These are all really formative memories for kids, great for their brain development as well; getting in the dirt and the grass, the trees and the water,” says Jackie Howard, Styx Living Laboratory Trust community coordinator, who also hopes to see more people enjoying the Styx and preserving its natural beauty for generations to come. 

The Jobs for Nature programme is a $1.219 billion Government initiative aimed at creating nature-based work opportunities to benefit our environment and provide support towards the on-going economic recovery from COVID-19.