Time to reflect – and look to the future

Hurunui Waiau Water Zone Committee Deputy Chair Ken Hughey

Hurunui Waiau Water Zone Committee Acting Chair Ken Hughey

Ken Hughey, Acting Chair, Hurunui Waiau Water Zone Committee, reflects on how far the committee has come with water management in the zone and how it is approaching future challenges.

Monday 16 September 2019 was a milestone day for the Zone Committee because in many ways it marked the end of an era.

A decade ago there was an application for a Water Conservation Order on the Hurunui River, the Canterbury Water Management Strategy was in its early stages and the first Hurunui Waiau Zone Committee was coming together.

We can now reflect a little on how far we’ve come with water management in the zone since then.

Zone committee achievements

  • A high level of community engagement in our water management challenges
  • A workable Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan
  • Nutrient limits and good approaches to protecting water quality in the Hurunui and Waiau Uwha rivers
  • The start of major investment in threatened and endangered species bird management on braided rivers
  • The Hurunui Splash project to improve water quality and infrastructure around freshwater swimming sites
  • Good take-up of Farm Environment Plans
  • Planned further sustainable irrigation development.

Saying our farewells 

Several individuals who have been instrumental in this progress were farewelled on 16 September - Chair John Faulkner, retiring Hurunui District Mayor Winton Dalley, retiring Environment Canterbury Councillor Cynthia Roberts, and another long-term member, James McCone.

These people can all be reliably described as “Mighty Tōtara”. All four thought and acted strategically, something that is not always easily done around the Zone Committee table.

All four acted with integrity and made positive and significant contributions over time. All four are totally committed to the zone and its wellbeing. They worked with vision, commitment, perseverance and patience, all important characteristics when dealing with contentious water management issues.

With these “Mighty Tōtara” departing, who will be the new leaders stepping into this space? Strong leadership will be vital given the numerous initiatives on the horizon.

Future steps

As well as many local challenges - integrated water resource management, braided river values, wetland protection and enhancement, river flows, the consequences of some plan rules – there are now regional and national challenges for the community to consider as well.

Treaty of Waitangi implementation, regional plan changes, biodiversity and climate change activity – and most recently the Government’s proposed “Action Plan for Healthy Waterways”.

Action Plan for Healthy Waterways — have your say

The Action Plan is a lot to digest in a short time. It will certainly have an impact everywhere, so I encourage you to have your say. Recognising its significance, the Government has extended the submission deadline to 31 October.

It is heartening to see that the proposals include actions that are already being taken in Canterbury –nutrient limits, land use consent to farm, farm environment plans (FEPs) and independent FEP audits have been features of our planning regime for some time. We also have in place rules around stock exclusion and winter grazing.

Find out more about the Government’s proposed Action Plan for Healthy Waterways.

In Hurunui Waiau we are well placed to address the water management challenges of the future. This will take more vision, commitment, perseverance and patience – and very importantly, a lot of listening to the community.

Interested in the work we do — Join our monthly zone committee meetings.