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Major milestone reached on Waikato River management

A landmark co-management agreement will see Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Waikato Regional Council work closely together to restore and protect the health of the Waikato River.

The Taupō-based iwi and the council have announced today the finalising of a joint management agreement (JMA) that outlines the detail of the working relationship.

The agreement is the last of five JMAs to be signed between the council and the Waikato River iwi. 

It covers the Upper Waikato River and provides for a future extension to also include the Taupo Waters should the parties agree.

Topia Rameka, chief executive officer of the Tūwharetoa Māori Trust Board, said: “For the respective hapū related to the Upper Waikato River and Taupo Waters, this agreement is a further step that re-affirms our partnership with the Waikato Regional Council as we work together for the long term care and protection of these important taonga tuku iho (natural resources).”

Waikato Regional Council chief executive Vaughan Payne said: “The regional council is pleased to formally agree a co-management relationship with Ngāti Tūwharetoa. Council has seen the value of the inter-generational vision that Ngāti Tūwharetoa bring to council’s decision making, including their extensive experience with the region’s waterways – our most significant resource.”

The agreement’s provisions include how Ngāti Tūwharetoa and the council will work together on matters such as:

  • River-related monitoring and enforcement activities
  • Planning documents
  • Engagement for relevant resource consent applications
  • The provision for other agreed processes to be developed, such as iwi customary activities.

Guiding principles in the agreement include protecting the health and well-being of the Waikato River, upholding Te Ture Whaimana (the vision and strategy for the river), respecting the mana of Ngāti Tūwharetoa and acting consistently with Treaty of Waitangi principles.

A co-governance committee to oversee implementation of the JMA has been established with equal numbers of council and Tūwharetoa Māori Trust Board representatives.

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