A mate of the Hound attended the huge meeting in Timaru, last month, on the Government’s proposed freshwater reforms. Hundreds of anxious farmers turned up to hear officials – as well as Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Environment Minister David Parker – discuss the topic.
Five initial open days are being held between 1 and 8 December in Otorohanga, Reporoa, Putaruru, Tuakau and Matangi.
“This is a great opportunity for the likes of farmers, growers, businesses and the general community to understand the detail of what’s being proposed in this ground-breaking plan,” Waikato Regional Council chief executive Vaughan Payne says.
“We have put in place an extended period for submissions to be made through till March next year. These open days will help people to make informed submissions that help us reach workable solutions to the complex issue of water quality in the Waikato and Waipa rivers.”
The Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora Proposed Regional Plan Change 1 was approved by the council recently for public notification. The proposal was put together by a multi-sector Collaborative Stakeholder Group under the oversight of a committee made up of regional councillors and river iwi representatives.
“Water quality has consistently been identified as the number one issue for Waikato people for the past two decades,” says Payne.
“What we do now to improve water quality in our rivers, through mechanisms such as the ones proposed in the plan change, will determine the future state we leave them in for our children and their children.
“As a generation we have a window of opportunity to make these changes to improve the water quality in our rivers. If we do nothing now it will be much harder to fix in the future.”
Payne says it is important for people to put their views forward. “These are your rivers, this is your plan, make sure you have your say. The opportunity to influence a major policy like this only happens once in a decade. The significance of this for community and landowners should therefore not be underestimated, and council is doing everything possible to help people make informed submissions.
“The open days are designed to maximise understanding by enabling one-on-one discussions between council staff and potential submitters.”
The first four open days will held between 11am and 3pm, while the Matangi event is between 3pm and 7pm. Dates and venues are as follows:
Otorohanga – Thursday, 1 December
Otorohanga Club, 107-113 Maniapoto Street
Reporoa – Friday, 2 December
River Road Hall, 1260 River Road
Putaruru – Monday, 5 December
Putaruru Hotel, 79 Princes St
Tuakau – Wednesday, 7 December
Tuakau Memorial Hall, George Street Tuakau
Matangi – Thursday, 8 December
Matangi Hall, 483 Tauwhare Place
More open days are planned in the new year. The full proposed plan change is available online at www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/healthyrivers