Community meets to discuss Ashburton/Hakatere River mouth survey results

Environment Canterbury recently undertook a survey to get feedback from recreational users of the Ashburton River / Hakatere to help develop a management strategy for the area.

More than 160 people completed the survey and the results were shared with close to 50 community members at a public meeting on 16 February 2019.

Donna Lil, who led the meeting on behalf of Environment Canterbury, said there was a wide range of views shared on topics such as access and protecting native wildlife.

“The freedom and ease of access to the area were very important to many people, but others were concerned about the risk vehicles, people and dogs can pose to vulnerable bird species that nest and live there.

“Some people felt that a management strategy for the area would help to address these threats while others saw more management as a threat to the freedom of access that they currently enjoy,” she said.

At the meeting participants also had a chance to share their ideas on how the area should be managed and what values were important to them.

Some of these ideas included:

  • Forming a group of ‘guardians’ to raise awareness of the importance of the area
  • Ensuring important shorebird nesting and feeding areas are not disturbed during specific times of the year
  • Providing an area where 4WDs and motorbikes can make their own tracks and access across the river away from the river delta.

A Geraldine-based landscape architect will now take these ideas and others from landowners, rūnanga, and technical experts to develop draft management concepts which balance the views and values of users and the natural environment.

These draft concepts will then be shared with relevant groups in April before a management strategy is developed in the middle of this year.