About the History of the Catchment

A large state housing development transformed the predominately rural Otara during the 1950’s with steady urban growth further intensifying with the development of the 40 ha Otara Industrial Estate in 1966.


May 1958, showing the motorway causeway across the Tamaki River,

and the first houses in Block I, the Wymondley Road area, under

construction. (Whites Aviation, no. 469


Aerial view of Otara Town Centre, 5 April 1967.

(Whites Aviation, no.66784). Auckland Libraries


In 1968 the Electricity Commission of New Zealand constructed the Otahuhu Power Station.  A weir was placed across the waterway forming the Ōtara Lake to provide a reservoir of cooling water for the plant.  The tidal function of the waterway was disrupted and sediment and contaminants from the 3,500 hectare stormwater catchment began to accumulate in the 50 hectare lake.

Local community concern regarding the quality of the water in the Otara waterways and lake was first registered in 1974 when Sir Edmond Hillary Collegiate wrote to the government highlighting environment related issues of the Ōtara waterways and lake.  In 1994 the Otara Lake Action Plan and Accord Accord was signed  by the Auckland Regional Council, the Electricity Commission of New Zealand and Manukau City Council setting out a plan to remediate the lake, meanwhile the Ōtara Community initiated community led activities such as stream clean up days. However there remained a lack of support to undertake a wider programme of work and address significant water quality and environment issues associated with the catchment, the Ōtara waterways and lake restoration.  In 1996 the Otara Lake and Catchment Development Proposed Implementation Plan was developed, however due to a lack of support was not implemented.

Visit http://thegrid.co.nz/listing/otara/ for a comprehensive history of Otara

The Vision

The Trust has a long term vision to restore the mauri of the Otara waterways and lake and to reconnect people to this place.   This vision has three themes:  Mauri, Connection and Pride - all three themes are interconnected.

In 2014 Manukau Institute of Technology visual arts students

MIT students Cara Griffith and Grace Tai brought this vision to life by examining what the lake could look like in future and the steps needed to get to that stage.

They have created a vision of a sustainable and safe place where everyone can freely access the waters and have it watched over by the local people instead of hidden or fenced off from the community.