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Published: 2015-11-04 00:00:00

More than 300 people have turned out for workshops in recent weeks on how to better restore and protect the Waikato and Waipa rivers.

“The turnout at the stakeholder workshop and two subsequent public workshops held so far indicate clearly the community’s interest in the Healthy Rivers: Plan for Change/Wai Ora: He Rautaki Whakapaipai process,” said Bill Wasley, the independent chair of a Collaborative Stakeholder Group (CSG) designing a recommended regional plan change to protect the rivers. The plan change process is being managed by Waikato Regional Council and river iwi.

Some 235 stakeholders attended a workshop at the Mystery Creek Events Centre, while 55 and 36 people respectively attended public events in Tokoroa and Tuakau.

At the stakeholder workshop, regional council chairperson Paula Southgate said that “with the depth and breadth of people here you can’t help but be optimistic” about the rivers’ future.

Mr Wasley said restoring and protecting the rivers was going to take time.

“Water quality took a long time to get to current state. It will take time to fix. The Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora process is the start of an extended journey towards our goals of making the rivers swimmable and fishable along their entire length. The feedback we’re getting at the workshops is very valuable for making choices about the way ahead.”

At the workshops, the CSG has been asking for feedback on a range of suggested approaches, including:

  • taking a staged approach to achieving the legally binding Vision and Strategy for the rivers, which aims to have them swimmable and fishable along their entire length
  • ’holding the line’ on contaminants entering rivers as a first step towards reducing them
  • benchmarking nitrogen and phosphorus discharges from land as a step towards setting limits on these
  • having catchment-wide rules to protect water quality and individual property plans.

There are three more workshops coming up. All are between 6.30pm and 8.30pm:

  • Thursday 5 November, Hamilton Gardens Pavilion
  • Tuesday 10 November, Otorohanga Club, 107 Maniapoto St, Otorohanga
  • Wednesday 11 November, Broadlands Hall, 2986 Broadlands Rd, Reporoa

 eople who cannot make it to a workshop can provide their thoughts in an online survey at The survey closes on Friday 13 November.