The Te Awanui Tauranga Harbour catchments targets for waterway protection have been exceeded for 2015/16.

Sixty-nine kilometres of waterway margins were protected from stock access over the past year due to 42 new environmental management plans, a Bay of Plenty Regional Council press release announced.

This was compared with their target of 50km.

However, it would be some time before land-use change translated into visible improvements in water quality and harbour health, said Tauranga Harbour Catchments manager Sarah Omundsen.

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"But we're generally now seeing stable or improving trends in water quality indicators such as suspended sediment, clarity, nitrogen, phosphorous and faecal contamination," she said.

Mrs Omundsen said they were supporting Western Bay District Council to replace ageing septic tank systems at Ongare Point and Te Puna West with wastewater reticulation schemes, and a new Tauranga Moana Iwi Management Plan was lodged by Ngati Ranginui, Ngai te Rangi and Ngati Pukenga.

"The new iwi management plan will help guide our harbour care efforts in future. It complements the work we're already doing with hapu and Maori landowners to restore mauri (life force) and protect cultural values at sites like Motuopae Island and Rangataua Bay," Mrs Omundsen said.

For more information, go to: www.boprc.govt.nz/taurangaharbour.