Drainage was the key to turning land into productive pasture when Hauraki Plains farmer, Ian Coombe, was first elected to Thames Valley Drainage Committee.
That was in October 1978. Now, almost 40 years later, he has this week attended his final committee meeting supporting and representing the Elstow drainage area.
Over the years since he was first elected to the committee, Ian has been instrumental in developing a fairer drainage rating classification, supporting effective flood management with the installation of the Ahikope pump stations and watching with great interest the Waihou Valley Scheme design and construction.
In discussing his retirement at Tuesday’s committee meeting, Ian said: “Not much has changed. Weeds still grow in the drains, water still flows downhill, and there is always a new problem.”
He also acknowledged that landowners are now expected to protect the environment, deal with health and safety in new ways and “everything is an electronic toy now”.
At the meeting a trophy recognising his long-standing commitment was presented to Ian on behalf of Waikato Regional Council by Waihou constituency councillor and co-chair of the integrated catchment management committee, Stu Husband.
Cr Husband said: “Ian’s massive contribution and long service is an outstanding example of someone who is dedicated to serving his community well. This is a special and rare moment, and I know his quietly spoken voice and extensive knowledge will be missed around the committee table.
“I wish Ian and his family all the best for the future.”