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Published: 2011-08-25 00:00:00

Information collected during a series of community meetings will help with future land and water planning of the Kaimai-Mamauku catchments by agencies involved in a joint project.

More than 120 people attended meetings over the past month in the project’s Waihou sub-catchments at Okoroire, Wairakau, Te Aroha, Mangaiti and Waihi. Organised by the Kaimai Catchments Project, the meetings gave locals an opportunity to have their say about how they would like land and water to be managed in their area.

The focus of the project is on the sustainable management of the natural resources in the Kaimai and Mamaku catchments. Nutrients and sediment from land in the catchments disperse into the Tauranga Harbour and the Waihou River, which flows into the Firth of Thames. These water bodies are a key focus for protection under the project.

Sustainable management of natural resources will also support activities such as agriculture, forestry, recreation and conservation, which is another important concern for the project.

The project is based on strong community participation and involves the Department of Conservation (DOC), Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Waikato Regional Council. The project is facilitated by New Zealand Landcare Trust.

Project coordinator, Kate Akers of New Zealand Landcare Trust, welcomed the “excellent turnout” at the five meetings.

“Community participation is the key component of the work being undertaken as part of the project and the frank and honest feedback from locals is invaluable,” Ms Akers said.

Regional council and DOC staff presented the latest information about the environmental health of the Waihou catchment with regard to land stability, water quality, and indigenous biodiversity and how this relates to the way we use our natural resources. 

Participants then provided feedback on their view of the catchment’s land and water management challenges and priorities, and how they would like the various agencies to work with them to address these issues.

Ms Akers said a number of issues emerged as themes through all the meetings:

  • Council to step up the maintenance of mature river and stream bank stabilisation plantings (poplars and willows), which were creating blockages in various places.
  • The need to communicate understandable science on water quality specific to the Waihou catchment to underpin council policy and plans. Farmers feel unfairly singled out as the “culprit” for poor water quality in the rivers.
  • The need for better communication on the ground between council and landowners, in particular with regard to riparian management, permitted activities and consent requirements. A local familiar contact person would be preferred as a first port of call.

It is expected the feedback will further assist the different agencies with future planning. In particular it will:

  • assist the Waikato Regional Council to set priorities and budgets for the 2012-2022 Long Term Plan
  • provide direction to the Waikato Regional Council’s recently formed land and water subcommittee to consider issues relating to sustainable land and water use
  • inform the Department of Conservation’s local strategic planning
  • contribute to the Kaimai Catchments Project.

Waikato Regional Council’s senior land management officer, Rien van de Weteringh, said some of the issues and suggestions raised during the meetings had already been identified for consideration in next year’s Long Term Plan review.

The information gathered at the meetings has been presented to the Kaimai Catchments Forum, which comprises iwi, stakeholders and representatives of other interest groups. During the meeting, the forum further prioritised the issues identified by the community.

For the reports and presentations from the sub-catchment community meetings and for more information on the Kaimai Catchments Project go to: http://www.landcare.org.nz/regional-focus/central-north-island/kaimai-catchments.

To find out more about the land and water management issues in your sub-catchment and/or contribute to the plans and project, please email Rien van de Weteringh on rien.vandeweteringh@waikatoregion.govt.nz or call 0800 800 401.