Correcting the record on the Rakaia River

We understand our role in maintaining the special character of the Rakaia. It’s something we take seriously.

Last Friday we withdrew our application to the Environment Court to clarify our role in upholding the 1988 Rakaia Water Conservation Order (WCO).  

The original declaration, which was filed in February this year, put forward three statements that outlined our understanding of the extent of its role in enforcing the provisions of the WCO, and one statement on our understanding of how the WCO relates to water storage in Lake Coleridge.

Science Director Dr Tim Davie said that all parties involved in Court proceedings came to an agreement that the statements put to the Court were correct, and no longer wished to pursue a declaration regarding water storage, so there was no longer anything for the Court to decide.

"Given the agreement, it would be a waste of time and ratepayer money to continue the matter in Court, so we made the decision to withdraw the application," Dr Davie said." The court-facilitated process has confirmed our role, and there was no benefit in continuing with the declaration, so we think the withdrawal should have come as no surprise to the parties involved."

Our role is to monitor consents and ensure that consent conditions are complied with.

Our consent planners take the WCO into account when processing consent applications, and we cannot issue consents that would allow water users to breach the terms of the WCO.

Where granted, consents come with conditions that ensure the WCO is upheld, and we work to ensure consent holders are compliant with these conditions.

Davie said that this is the process through which a regional council can give effect to the WCO.

"We are happy to get together regarding the Rakaia with the other parties if this can be done in a constructive manner,” Dr Davie said. “We are not interested in throwing stones via the media."

"Many of our staff are passionate about the Rakaia and Waitaha’s braided rivers in general. We are not just scientists and bureaucrats – we’re also kayakers, anglers, photographers and all kinds of river users," Dr Davie said.

"To hear it implied that we are trying to shirk our responsibility to protect the river is frustrating and disrespectful to many of us who are working hard to ensure this taonga retains its mauri for future generations."