Government Move To Protect Hawke's Bay's Ngaruroro River Welcomed
Iwi, environment and recreational organisations are welcoming the Environment Minister’s decision to take the next step in protecting Hawkes Bay’s Ngaruroro and Clive Rivers with a Water Conservation Order.
The organisations - Fish & Game, Ngati Hori ki Kohupatiki, Forest & Bird, Whitewater NZ and Jet Boating NZ – filed a joint application in December last year to the Minister to have the Water Conservation Order declared.
Such orders give rivers and lakes the equivalent of National Park-type protection and if successful, it will be only the 16th of New Zealand’s many hundreds of waterways to be protected by a WCO.
“Our group is delighted that the Minister has decided to progress the application and refer it to a special tribunal for further consideration,” says Bryce Johnson, Chief Executive of Fish & Game.
“While the Minister has advised us that appointing the members of that tribunal may take time, we are pleased that progress is being made.
“We are also delighted to see that the Hawkes Bay Regional Council has backed away from its initial opposition to the Water Conservation Order and is now welcoming the Minister’s decision.
“The Ngaruroro and Clive Rivers are special because of their many truly outstanding values and a Water Conservation Order will protect them for the enjoyment of all New Zealanders now and for the generations to come,” says Mr Johnson.
The Ngaruroro River rises high in the remote Kaimanawa Ranges, emerging onto the Heretaunga plains at Whanawhana before flowing through Hawke’s Bay into the Pacific Ocean at Clive, just south of Napier.
The Ngaruroro is culturally important to Hawke’s Bay Maori and Ngati Hori ki Kohupatiki says it is backing the application because it strengthens its efforts to restore the waterway’s mana and mauri.
The river is also highly valued by outdoor recreationists for its fishing, whitewater kayaking, rafting and jet boating challenges. Forest & Bird says braided rivers are rare in the North Island and the Ngaruroro is a unique and outstanding habitat worthy of protection.
Bryce Johnson says the Water Conservation Order group will now wait to see the makeup of the tribunal, and while the initial application has been delayed, they remain hopeful that the final decision can be made soon.
“Our group’s application is backed by a substantial volume of evidence which makes a very strong case for the Water Conservation Order. We are confident this large body of evidence will help the tribunal make a quick decision,” says Mr Johnson.