Waterway fencing highlight of local farmer’s zone committee post

Reflecting on the past six years he's served on the Kaikōura Water Zone Committee, Tony Blunt is immensely proud of the strides taken to improve and protect water in the district.

Supporting farmers to achieve environmental goals

"One of the greatest achievements is that the dairy farmers in the Kaikōura district were the first to have all their streams fenced and planted and the first to complete their farm environment plans.

"It's part of an ongoing project that the dairy farmers themselves started decades ago, and as a zone committee, we've been able to help support them in some of their endeavours."

The Kaikōura Water Zone Committee is one of 10 committees in the Canterbury region tasked with identifying water issues and developing solutions to improve water quality and quantity.

Its membership is made up of community, Rūnanga, and local and regional council representatives, and with a membership refresh underway, Tony says it’s important for local people to be involved.

"Local people are often the best at identifying the issues and coming up with ways to solve them.  The zone committee takes a cooperative, collaborative approach to water management, and it's very enjoyable and exciting to be part of.  I’d encourage local people to get involved and play their part," he said.

Tony has served on the zone committee since its inception under the Canterbury Water Management Strategy in 2011.

"I could see there were some great opportunities to become involved.  It was a bit like stepping into the unknown at the beginning, but we've certainly made big strides forward since then," he said.

Huge success for the Clarence River project

As well as the work with Kaikōura dairy farmers, Tony is personally very proud of the collaboration between Clarence River landowners in their predator and weed control.

"It was deemed the Clarence was 'lost' in terms of weed control, but through the Immediate Steps funding we've been very lucky to have some great work done by pulling together the landowners and related parties and creating a very successful weed control programme," he said.

Earlier this year, the Department of Conservation, who are carrying out the predator control project in the Clarence River, announced the black fronted tern breeding season had been the most successful in five years.

"Even though it is very early on in the predator control programme, it looks like it is already having a hugely positive impact on the endangered river bird species that nest in the riverbed," Tony said.