Working together for water in Hawke’s Bay

25 Nov 2011

Forest & Bird recently organised a workshop for iwi and other groups working for clean and healthy water in Hawke’s Bay.

The aim of the workshop on October 28 was to share knowledge about freshwater issues in the area and how to work cooperatively with local authorities to achieve the best outcome, Lower North Island Field Officer Aalbert Rebergen said.

The workshop was held at Kohupatiki Marae, near Hastings, and was attended by about 40 people, including a number of representatives of local iwi.

“We wanted to establish a stronger relationship with iwi, to help iwi have a stronger voice and to be there with them on water quality issues,” Aalbert said.

“We want biodiversity and sustainability to be right at the top when decisions are made about water management. This workshop was an important step in trying to bring together people concerned about water quality and to try to ensure Forest & Bird’s voice is heard.”

Aalbert said Hawke’s Bay was facing some of the same issues as Canterbury related to the rate of extraction of water from rivers.

“Hawke’s Bay is one of the areas where water management issues are really coming into focus. Like Canterbury, the land is almost entirely developed and it is also one of New Zealand’s warmest and driest areas. The long term trend with climate change is likely to see the region become hotter and drier.”

The workshop participants acknowledged the key issues, especially the role of irrigation and greater storage in allowing for greater intensification of agriculture and the associated pollution problems, Aalbert said.

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is investigating the feasibility of damming the Makaroro River, a scheme which would allow the irrigation of 22,500 hectares.

A meeting of workshop participants is proposed for the last week of November to discuss the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s long-term strategic plan and the upcoming release of regional council’s Land and Water Strategy.