All posts by Kevin England

Ngaruroro River Water Conservation Order

https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/ngaruroro-river-water-conservation-order

Please donate here.

After years of tireless efforts from Whitewater New Zealand and others, a Special Tribunal recommended that the Ngaruroro River in Hawkes Bay be protected by a Water Conservation Order (WCO). For those that aren’t familiar with WCO’s, this is the highest level of protection that a river can get in NZ and is meant to give everlasting protection to ensure a valley remains wild and free. River people, including kayakers, rafters, canoeists, packrafters, fly fishers, trampers, hunters, bird spotters, and conservationists from across the Country celebrated this decision. However, WWNZ’s lawyers took a closer look at the wording within the proposed Order and found that it didn’t really offer any protection at all! They were proposing to allow water abstraction from tributaries, there was no solid definition of such basic terms as damming, no controls on water contamination and it left the door wide open for developers to challenge it in the future. 

WWNZ have appealed the original draft WCO (link is here) and proposed a new draft (link is here). We’re taking this fight to the Environment Court, so if you care about the future of whitewater and rivers in NZ please dig deep in your pockets and make a donation to help with our Court costs. Future generations deserve to experience wild and free rivers in NZ and we’re trying our best to provide the protection that our wild places deserve. Please help us.

We’ve started a “give-a-little” campaign so you can donate to this cause and help us keep this special river wild and free:

https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/ngaruroro-river-water-conservation-order

If you’d like to know more about the fight so far, read on!

Late in 2015 Whitewater NZ, along with the Zealand Fish and Game Council, Hawke’s Bay Fish and Game Council, Operation Patiki Ngāti Hori ki Kohupatiki, the Royal Forest and Bird Society of New Zealand and Jet Boating New Zealand, lodged an application for a Water Conservation Order (WCO) on the Ngaruroro River in Hawke’s Bay. The New Zealand Rivers Association (the professional body for rafters in New Zealand) also supported the application. Whitewater NZ particularly wanted to preserve the outstanding white water kayaking and rafting amenity and wild, scenic and natural characteristics of the river above Whanawhana, where there are two stunning multi-day white water runs in the upper river. This was part of Whitewater NZ’s on-going conservation strategy on behalf of paddlers throughout the country to help preserve some of the best white water runs in New Zealand for the future. The application and our conservation effort were strongly supported, and especially financially, by the Hawke’s Bay Canoe Club. 

Hearings before a Special Tribunal were held for the river in two stages in 2017-18. Whitewater NZ presented its case as did clubs and paddlers from throughout New Zealand who submitted in support of the application. A draft WCO was recommended by the Special Tribunal in August 2019. The outstanding white water amenity and wild and scenic river values above Whanawhana were recognised in the draft WCO, with no damming on the mainstem but damming possible on tributaries. The outstanding jet boating, iwi and bird values in the river below Whanawhana were not recognised by the WCO. 

The wording in the WCO designed to protect our values was very ambiguous and open to interpretation, permitting activities so long as their impacts were no more than minor. This could mean that any future applications for water takes in the tributaries and headwaters and dams for water storage could severely affect flows in reaches of the river down to Whanawhana.  This would not retain the flows and river processes that provide for our values, and we would have to defend the WCO whenever such situations arose.  In effect, the WCO recognised our values but did not protect them at all in a meaningful way. This decision used language that would also set a very poor precedent for future WCOs.

As a result, Whitewater NZ decided to appeal this decision to the Environment Court seeking better clarity around protection of our white water values, and especially no damming provisions on the headwater tributaries and meaningful protection of water quality in the river, which is a key feature of the upper river runs. Other parties, such as the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, the NZ Winegrowers Association, NZ Beef and Lamb, Pernod Ricard (Multinational liquor manufacturer who profit from wine in Hawkes Bay) Federated Farmers and other development groups also appealed the decision, seeking to further weaken the Order and leave no restrictions on damming and water storage on the headwater tributaries.  

Whitewater NZ have so far undertaken mediation facilitated by the Environment Court to see if the matters could be resolved without a full Environment Court Hearing. This was largely unsuccessful largely due to the opposition of the agricultural sector and the HBRC. We are continuing to work towards resolving a number of issues, including with local tangata whenua, who also object to the imposition of a WCO. Much of the land on the true right bank in the upper river run down to Kuripapango is Maori Trust land (the rest is administered by the Department of Conservation (DoC)) and tangata whenua want to be the primary custodians to control this land and look after it and the river as kaitiaki (guardians). The Trusts already have a number of kawenata (land administration agreements) with DoC to look after and conserve their lands. We are developing a relationship with these Trusts to collectively look after the river.

We now need to raise $35,000 to fund our appeal in the Environment Court. The Court date has been set down for early February. In the past we have been very fortunate to have the support of Fish and Game in such processes, but for various internal reasons they have withdrawn from the appeal. Forest and Bird have appealed the decision as it affects their values on the lower river, and also support us in the upper river as they have interests in the whio (blue duck) and native fish populations in the upper river. Thus, we are largely on our own. The funds are needed to provide legal representation and legal submissions at the Hearing.

Thus, we are launching a fund-raising appeal to the wider kayaking and rafting community to support the Environment Court appeal. We would be most grateful to receive donations to the fund. Should the appeal not go ahead we would offer to return any donated funds should parties want that or retain the funds for other conservation work carried out by Whitewater NZ if you were happy with that. Please support us strongly in this matter if you are able. The chance to get WCOs on rivers only happens occasionally in New Zealand. The processes required to get them are long and expensive. Fish and Game would have spent about $750,000 so far on the Ngaruroro WCO. It would be great to complete this process and get a meaningful defensible WCO granted on the river after all our collective efforts.

Please dig deep and help us to help keep this majestic river wild and free.

https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/ngaruroro-river-water-conservation-order

Flying in to the Upper Ngaruroro River.
Catarafts on the Upper Ngaruroro Gorge.

Kayaking in NZ during a pandemic

What does whitewater paddling in NZ look like at the various pandemic alert levels? 

With today’s news about Covid-19 in the community we thought it would be worth reminding everybody about what whitewater paddling looks like at the different levels

Level 4.

  1. Stay home. 
  2. Stay safe. 
  3. Do not go whitewater paddling. 

Level 3. 

  1. Stay in your bubble. Avoid driving in a vehicle with anyone outside of your bubble. This will mean carefully planning shuttles and travel to and from a river
  2. Only paddle on your local rivers, that you know well and present no risks
  3. Paddle one grade below your normal level. That means Class V is NOT OK!
  4. Do not paddle on flooded rivers
  5. Paddle in small groups (up to 4 people) and maintain at least 2m distance from people outside your bubble. 
  6. Your choice of river should not be at all challenging for your level of experience. It should feel like a “walk in the park”
  7. Do not paddle on whitewater rivers alone
  8. Do not do overnight trips
  9. Do not share equipment
  10. Club activities should not take place

Level 2:

  1. Transmission of the virus is most likely whilst travelling in a vehicle, so plan this carefully. Here are some things you can do to reduce the transmission risk while driving shuttles and driving to / from a river trip:
    1. Drive to and from the river by yourself or create an expanded “shuttle bubble”, and stick to this grouping whilst driving (and on the river, if possible)
    2. Drive with windows open
    3. Use good personal hygiene whilst sharing a car
  2. Stay well within your skill level to reduce the likelihood of needing emergency services.
  3. Paddle in small groups and try to keep your group exclusive 
  4. Keep a record of who you paddle with
  5. Use physical distancing wherever possible, particularly at the put-in and take-out, where other people may be present
  6. Avoid touching each other’s gear, and if this is not possible, disinfect or use hand sanitiser as quickly as possible
  7. Overnight trips are OK as long as 1m physical distancing is maintained
  8. If you are sick, have any respiratory, cold or flu-like symptoms, do not go paddling

Level 1.

  1. Get out there
  2. Play it safe
  3. Be kind

Together we will beat this!!!

Kayaking at Level 1.

Well done New Zealand!
Today (8th June 2020) Government has reported that there are no active cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand. Because of this we will move to Level 1 at midnight tonight! That is a great achievement and the “Team of 5 Million” deserves a big pat on the back for pulling this off!

The restrictions on group activities are now lifted, and life can essentially go back to normal. However, let’s be mindful that some fo us may be out of practice, so take it easy-don’t go throwing yourself at Class V because just because you were paddling like a legend at the end of the summer!

Also, let’s try and make sure we learn from this pandemic experience:

Play it safe.

Be kind!

The Government is still asking us to be mindful of washing hands, good hygiene, cough or sneeze into your elbow and try to keep a track of where you go and who you see (for clubs, pleas just keep a record of who goes on the club trips).

Importantly, we all need to be conscious of helping to support local businesses who may have been economically hard hit by the lockdown. So, what can we do as kayakers? Get out there and go kayaking!!!! But it’s more than that-make sure that you stop for fish and chips on the way home or buy a new sprayskirt or a new throw-bag at your local kayaking shop!

Thanks to everyone for playing their parts in this pandemic response.

Kayaking at level 2

Whitewater at Level 2

On Thursday (14th May) NZ will move into Level 2 Pandemic Alert. Whilst some lucky paddlers were able to get a whitewater fix during the Level 3 Alert over the past couple of weeks, for most of us the shift to Level 2 is likely to be our first chance to get back out on the water.

There is still a risk of community transmission of the virus, which means that we can’t simply go back to paddling as usual. So, please don’t rush into this, play it safe and follow these guidelines for whitewater paddling during the Level 2 Alert:

  1. Transmission of the virus is most likely whilst travelling in a vehicle, so plan this carefully. Here are some things you can do to reduce the transmission risk while driving shuttles and driving to / from a river trip:
    1. Drive to and from the river by yourself or create an expanded “shuttle bubble”, and stick to this grouping whilst driving (and on the river, if possible)
    2. Drive with windows open
    3. Use good personal hygiene whilst sharing a car
  2. Stay well within your skill level to reduce the likelihood of needing emergency services.
  3. Paddle in small groups and try to keep your group exclusive 
  4. Keep a record of who you paddle with
  5. Use physical distancing wherever possible, particularly at the put-in and take-out, where other people may be present
  6. Avoid touching each other’s gear, and if this is not possible, disinfect or use hand sanitiser as quickly as possible
  7. Overnight trips are OK as long as 1m physical distancing is maintained
  8. If you are sick, have any respiratory, cold or flu-like symptoms, do not go paddling

Advice for clubs:

Small public gatherings are allowed at Level 2, so club activities can take place. However, please follow the rules above and create a documented safety plan including the following points:

  1. Use Sport New Zealand’s Touch Free Contact Register to record all group participants in club actuivities
  2. Participants should have no respiratory symptoms and should have had no contact with others with respiratory symptoms in the two weeks prior to the trip
  3. Four days after the trip, the Trip Leader should check with all trip participants for any respiratory symptoms and notify everybody on the trip if symptoms are observed.
  4. Disinfect any shared equipment in the same way as you would to prevent the spread of Didymo

Please be mindful that for many of us, we’ve not been out on the water for a while, so we may be out of practice. That means taking extra precautions around rescue provisions and general river safety.

 Use your common sense – don’t rush into this, play it safe and be kind!

Whitewater kayaking during a Level 3 Alert

Whitewater kayaking during a Level 3 Alert

Over the past few weeks we’ve all been itching to get out on the water and I commend everyone for resisting that temptation. Sport NZ have released their activity specific guidance, which states that kayaking during the Level 3 Alert is permitted. However, this needs to be done sensibly, within your bubble and with no risk of hurting yourself or of needing rescue.

The most important principle is to maintain your bubble and stay safe, so that you do not need rescuing or medical care. You can do activities that are local, which you can do safely, and which do not involve interacting with other people, or equipment touched by other people. 

So, if you need to go out on whitewater rivers (whilst in Level 3 Alert) please follow these simple rules:

  1. Stay in your bubble. Avoid driving in a vehicle with anyone outside of your bubble. This will mean carefully planning shuttles and travel to and from a river
  2. Only paddle on your local rivers, that you know well and present no risks
  3. Paddle one grade below your normal level. That means Class V is NOT OK!
  4. Do not paddle on flooded rivers
  5. Paddle in small groups (up to 4 people) and maintain at least 2m distance from people outside your bubble. 
  6. Your choice of river should not be at all challenging for your level of experience. It should feel like a “walk in the park”
  7. Do not paddle on whitewater rivers alone
  8. Do not do overnight trips
  9. Do not share equipment
  10. Club activities should not take place

Now is not the time to take up new activities, push your limits, or expose yourself or your bubble to any risk. 

Use your common sense – be kind, stay local, stay safe.

Kia kaha river people.

Kev England, 

President, Whitewater NZ.

FAQs

How far can I drive to go paddling?

You should drive as short a distance as you can, and still do the activity. You must stay local. For example a river, lake or a beach 45 minutes away.

What sort of activities can I do?

You can drive to a nearby area to go for a paddle, swim, ride, walk or run, as long as these activities do not break your bubble or cause a risk of needing rescue or medical care

Who can I do paddle with?

You can paddle by yourself (flat water paddling) or with people from your extended bubble. If other people are present, maintain at least 2m separation.

Covid-19 update 13 April 2020

At today’s 1pm Covid-19 briefing we heard that on Thursday (16th April) the Government will release guidance on what the shift from level 4 Alert to level 3 Alert will look like in terms of recreation as well as other activities. WWNZ has been advocating for sensible access to our whitewater resources via our relationship with Recreation Aotearoa and Sport NZ, who have a direct line of communication with Government. We won’t know what the Level 3 Alert (or 2 and 1) rules and regulations look like until Thursday, but please be aware that whitewater enthusiasts are part of the dialogue and our unique requirements are being considered.

We will update you with advice and guidance on Level 3 Alert activities as soon as we can. For now, please be patient, stay in your bubble and be safe!

Lockdown photocomp

Attention all WWNZ members. We have decided to run a photo competition to try and inspire those of you who are in lockdown at the moment dreaming of WW kayaking.

We are calling for people to submit their favourite shots. You can enter as many times as you want.

We are asking that you share your photo’s to [email protected]

Along with a high definition image you should identify the person who took the photo, the paddler(s), the river and a caption to accompany the image. The criteria the judges will be looking for will be quality images that portray excitement within our sport.

The board will all vote for the photos submitted and the eventual winners will be contacted and published on social media.

By entering this competition you are giving WWNZ permission to use your photograph in the future. In this instance we will always credit the photographer.

Prizes
First place $150
Second place $100
Third place $50

If you are not a member of WWNZ and you wish to enter this competition feel free to join at whitewater.nz it is $10 to join. All winners will need to show that they are a current member of WWNZ. Photos are due by 5pm Friday 17 April 2020. Go well

Tongariro release postponed

Due to the Covid-19 lockdown situation this month’s scheduled Tongariro release has been postponed.

Whitewater NZ has negotiated with Genesis Energy to postpone this release until later in the year, when we will be able to get out and enjoy it! 

The future release date has not been confirmed yet and Whitewater NZ will endeavour to establish a suitable date that works for as many paddlers as possible.

Stay home and stay safe everyone!

Covid-19. An update from the President. 23-03-2020.

Things change fast. We are now in even stranger, tougher times. As of today, 23-03-2020, there are 102 cases of Corona virus, or Covid-19, infection in New Zealand. Community transferred cases have been detected and this means that the virus is now not contained. We are now in a Level 3 Alert status and at midnight on Wednesday (11:59pm, Wednesday 25-03-2020) we will enter a Level 4 Alert Status, which is likely to be in place for at least 4 weeks. Please see https://covid19.govt.nz/ for all the facts, rules, regulations and advice. 

Our Prime Minister stated in her speech today that “We are all now preparing as a nation to go into self-isolation in the same way we have seen other countries do. Staying at home is essential.”  

What does this mean for us?

  • New Zealanders who are outside of essential services must stay at home and stop all interactions with others outside of those in your households.
  • People can still go for a walk or exercise and enjoy nature, but must keep a 2m distance from people at all times.
  • Food will always be available – production will continue, distribution will continue, supermarkets will continue.
  • Medicines will always be available, healthcare for those that need it will be available, and usual financial support, like benefits, will continue as normal.
  • All actions must be solitary, and people should only spend time with those they are in self-isolation with, and keep distance from all others at all times.

WWNZ advises that all club activities and paddling in groups should cease. 

Whitewater kayaking can be a hazardous activity, which is made safe by the group you are paddling with. As such, whitewater kayaking should not be undertaken during the Level 4 Alert, unless your river trip group is solely within your household group. 

Whitewater kayaking alone should not be attempted. 

For individuals whose sanity requires that they simply must get in a kayak and go for a float, solo flatwater kayaking or ocean surfing is OK, just make sure that you absolutely adhere to the <2m distancing rule.

To those that read my message on Friday (20-03-2020), I hope you started to make contact with people who you’ve shared whitewater experiences with and had a laugh with them? Although, I hope you DIDN’T go out and cram 7 people in a shuttle vehicle?

Self-isolation means that you can’t go and see people like you usually would, so make sure you talk regularly with family and whānau. Check up on people who you know might be vulnerable. 

Remember, as river people, we’re well suited to dealing with adverse conditions, so take advantage of your inbuilt resilience and be strong. Help others to be strong too.

Kia kaha river people.

Kev England

President, Whitewater NZ.