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New push for landowner input to catchment plans

Fresh calls have been made for landowner representation in the preparation of catchment plans for the Waiapu and Waimata rivers.

But the Gisborne District Council environmental planning and regulations committee was told that staff were doing a lot of work to align catchment plans with the council’s strategic plan, and landowners would be consulted.

Amber Dunn asked why there were still no landowner representatives for the Waiapu River catchment plan.

“Where are the local representatives on the ground?” she asked.

Strategic planning manager Jo Noble said the joint governance group represented Crown entities and the council and that was why the landowners were not represented.

Having said that, a presentation was being made to the governance group that day by landowner Hilton Collier, who had made applications for a number of works in the catchment.

Landowners were not involved in the accord with Ngati Porou.

Ms Dunn said technically they were involved because these were council consents.

“It just seems funny that the people on the ground living in the catchment do not have a core role to play in such a wide project,” she said.

Was there any ability to get the people on the ground involved?

Ms Noble said there was a governance group and an operational one. It was at the operational level where representation could feed into the process.

Bill Burdett said he had raised this issue for a long time.

“We are the ones paying the rates.These other organisations don’t.”

The landowners appeared to be in total ignorance, however, Mr Collier would “wind them up” at the other meeting.

“I live up there, I have six or eight miles of river, both sides, and I am not going to let some third party speak for me.”

The runanganui or hapu did not speak for the farmers, landowners or business people, he said. “They should not get into bed with the council and suddenly tell us what will happen.”

A commitment to meet with the stakeholders on both sides of the river had not been actioned.

Rehette Stoltz said she felt for the first time things were falling into place. There were all these separate pieces of work, which were good in their own way, now being linked with the council’s freshwater plan. She was heartened by that.

Committee chairwoman Pat Seymour said good work wasbeing done on the Waimata River by a group outside the council, which should be integrated into the council’s planning

The council should take full advantage of the enthusiasm in the Waimata area.

It needed to take rural and urban residents with it in the development of the catchment plan.

Environmental services and protection director Nick Zaman said a “fair bit of work” was going on. Staff were concentrating on making sure that all these bits of work aligned with the national policy statement and some of the funding streams available.

It was not a case of trying to exclude landowners but some of the framework had not actually been set yet.

A lot of good work was going on in the Waimata catchment and it was a case of linking that all together.

Ms Noble said Waimata River had been identified as an at-risk catchment.

The integrated catchments team were leading a programme of work with landowners to work out their needs. the risks — particularly erosion — and looking for the most appropriate way of managing them.

Mrs Seymour said the people on the Waimata were active and were likely to get ahead of the council if it did not keep in touch with them.