Kayakers resist Kaituna access threatFebruary 11, 2020
Whitewater NZ and community representatives recently met with the Lake Rotoiti scenic reserves board where we proposed an access track through the scenic reserve land on river left. For details, see Kaituna River access issue page.
Updated 1 May 2019: The Bay of Plenty Regional Council Harbourmaster, Peter Buell, has issued a directive to close a section of Pari Tūkino (Gnarly Gorge) on the Kaituna river from 1 May 2019 until 1 November 2019. For details, see Kaituna River access issue page or Facebook.
Previously: The threat of a legal closure to the Kaituna River lower gorges has raised its head again. The Bay of Plenty Regional Harbour Master has announced his intention to close Awesome, Gnarly and Smokey gorges, effective 1 May 2019.
We see this as the local harbourmaster breaking new ground and an overreach of the legislative powers in the Maritime Transport Act. We are concerned about the precedent this decision sets for future management of New Zealand’s whitewater resources.
WWNZ had a last minute opportunity to present the Bay of Plenty Regional Council with our views on the situation and you can read these in our letter to BOPRC on 20 March (PDF). The council was receptive to our point of view and have given us a window of opportunity to negotiate an alternative solution to the recommended closure.
The process from this point involves facilitated mediation between multiple stakeholders with interests in the lower Kaituna Gorges. Our voice will be strongly represented and we will be doing everything we can to reach a tangible solution.
While these discussions are happening, we are asking paddlers to cease using the private land on river right to portage Gnarly gorge. In practical terms, that means ceasing paddling Awesome, Gnarly, and Smokey until the legal access can be resolved. We respect the position of our negotiating partners and we are hopeful that a show of good faith on the part of our community will assist in finding a resolution.
See our Kaituna River access issue page and Facebook for additional information.
Waitaha river hydro application declined
Environment Minister David Parker has declined an application by Westpower for a concession to dam the wild and scenic Waitaha River at Morgan Gorge.
The decision has been awaited since public submissions in 2016 especially the significant submission compiled by Doug Rankin and Shane Orchard on behalf of Whitewater NZ. The minister declined the concession application according to section 17U of the Conservation Act 1987 that preclude activities contrary to the purposes of the act, writing “I agree with these submissions that the experience for those using the area will be significantly lessened through the loss of the environment’s near-pristine, unmodified, wild and remote qualities.”
Whitewater New Zealand President Nigel Parry said he was relieved with the decision, “The Waitaha is a really special place and should be retained in its wild state, particularly when there is an approved scheme in a heavily modified environment waiting to be built on the Arnold. As kayakers and river users, we get a unique view of these remote places and we feel a responsibility to advocate for the preservation of New Zealand’s wild rivers and whitewater resources.”