Lake Te Koo Utu Concept Plan
Mahere ana mō ngā uri whakaheke - Planning for future generations
History and cultural significance of the lake
Lake Te Koo Utu was formed by an ox-bow in the Waikato River which was created when Taupo volcano erupted and pumice alluvium from the eruption blocked off a tributary to the Waikato River. Inputs to the lake were largely natural until Cambridge township stormwater runoff was diverted into the lake from 1882.
Lake Te Koo Utu has spiritual, cultural, traditional and historic significance to mana whenua. Ngāti Korokī Kahukura and Ngāti Hauā have a long association with Lake Te Koo Utu, the lake was referred to as the “Oko Horoi” or, the wash bowl, by Kiingi Taawhiao. Some say that it refers to the sorrow of land confiscation, others to the activities of the Indigenous Land Court in Cambridge. There are other references to the ceremonial washing of wounded in the waters of the lake. For Ngāti Korokī Kahukura and Ngāti Hauā Lake Te Koo Utu is an important connection with the Kiingitanga
Key aspirations for the future of Lake Te Koo Utu
- Improve water quality of Lake Te Koo Utu, including the quality of the water flowing into Karāpiro Stream and the Waikato River,
- Acknowledge the historical and cultural significance - honour the history of place
- Enhance biodiversity
- Improve and increase the range of play and recreation opportunities
- Strengthen connections between Lake Te Koo Utu and the Cambridge community
Key changes proposed in the concept plan
In order to achieve this overarching vision the concept plan proposes the following key changes to the lake and the surrounding reserve:
- To formalise the wetland area at the western side of the lake which would help to improve the water quality by containing sediments within the wetland and filtering nutrients. This will also provide habitat for biodiversity.
- To create a bund which would separate the wetland area from the rest of the lake with a possibility for a board walk atop it. The board walk and other areas around the reserve would have educational signage erected providing interesting information about the ecology and cultural significance of the reserve and the lake itself.
- To plant native vegetation along the existing lake edge in place of the current retaining wall, which would prevent further erosion and help improve the lake’s water quality and ecosystem.
- To create ‘The Meeting Place’ – a covered Pavilion function space which would provide a flexible venue for community gatherings and family celebrations with the potential for a small commercial activity. It will also serve as a representation of cultural significance of the site.
- Playgrounds – updating the playground on Thornton Road and installing a new natural playground grounded in ecology and Māori traditions and history on the lower terrace.
- Transform the gateways to the reserve – including a gateway at the eastern side of the lake to represent mana whenua’s identity, heritage and culture