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The Karamū Stream

Te Karamū Stream has a rich history reaching back more than 100 years when it was formed after flooding rearranged the district’s waterways. The stream, which carries the bulk of our stormwater out to sea, is critically important culturally, environmentally, recreationally and for practical reasons. It is imperative we keep it as clean as we possibly can by ensuring the stormwater it carries out to sea for us does not take with it the by-products of our daily lives.

Te Karamū Stream is much-loved by our community. Kayakers, stream-side walkers, joggers and cyclists, children spotting ducks and eels or carrying out school nature projects, and community groups working together to regenerate native plantings along its banks all enjoy this beautiful waterway.

The stream bed was once the main channel of the Ngaruroro River. After a major flood in 1867 the Ngaruroro river changed its course and the remaining collective streams, from Irongate to Longlands around Havelock North to Waipatu, came together to become Te Karamū.

Maori named the area and stream for the Karamū trees, which historically covered large areas of Hastings.

There was also once a Karamū Pā located in the Mangateretere area, near Ruahāpia Marae and Waipatu Marae.  

They were two of many marae in the Karamū catchment, and the long history of occupation and travel within the region has enabled whānau and hapū to accumulate extensive knowledge of the area’s natural resources.

Of great importance was that the stream and its tributaries provided an abundance of kai for the many whānau and hapū living in the area; tuna, pūrewa (kākahi), ngāore, kanaekura (piharau) and pātiki among them.

Te Karamu 1

For some, Te Karamū Stream is part of their pepeha, which describes features of the land clothed with names and kōrero tuku iho (oral history) given to the region by tūpuna who occupied, managed, developed and cared for it.

Today, the Heretaunga plains would be unrecognisable to our forebears, with development over the decades dramatically changing land use and flood hydrology within the Karamū catchment, to a point where the southern Heretaunga Plains now supports a population of over 50,000 people. 

As well as working as a natural ‘drain’ for a 51,462 hectare catchment, extending south from Awatoto to Havelock North and west to the Raukawa Ranges, the stream now also carries the bulk of the city’s stormwater into the Clive River and then out into Hawke Bay. 
On its way to the stream, via the stormwater network, the rain carries with it everything left on the roads, paths and streets, including litter, the sprays and fertilisers used on our gardens, farms and orchards, the by-products of our businesses, and oil, grease, rubber and brake dust from our vehicles.

Those elements pollute our waterways, building up to become dangerous to plant and animal life. Potentially making them unsafe for swimming and collecting kai.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is charged with looking after the health of our waterways and oversees stormwater consents managed by Hastings District Council (and the region’s other district and city councils). Hastings District Council and the regional council are working closely together to mitigate the pollution that washes into Te Karamū Stream, however that cannot be achieved without the help of all of our residents.

Te Karamū Stream takes the bulk of our stormwater directly and via smaller feeder waterways across the urban areas. We must all take care of the stream by remembering that stormwater drains are only for rain.

To find out how you can help to keep out waterways clean see: Don't pollute the stream

Want to help your youngsters learn more about stormwater? See: Hawke's Bay Regional Council's Stormwater Activity Sheet


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