Eight conservation and outdoor recreation groups have combined to fight for New Zealand’s wild rivers. The groups are Fish & Game, Federated Mountain Clubs, Forest & Bird, Whitewater NZ, the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of NZ, the NZ Rafting Association, the New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers and the Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ. The campaign comes in the wake of plans for a large hydro dam on the West Coast’s pristine Mokihinui River, irrigation water storage dams on Canterbury’s Hurunui River and indications that the Government is considering scrapping water conservation orders nationwide.
The eight organisations, representing more than 100,000 New Zealanders, are united in calling for stronger protection for New Zealand’s remaining wild rivers. There are a finite number of wild rivers left, the groups say. Damming them is irresponsible and short-sighted, especially when there are much more responsible and sustainable options. Energy planning must become more strategic, focusing on efficiency rather than building more dams. The Electricity Commission has said that NZ could make savings of 6400 gigawatt hours a year – equivalent to 20 Mokihinui dams – at less cost than building new electricity generation.