Forum considers next steps in River clean-up

Around 40 members of the Manawatū River Leaders’ Forum discussed next steps in the river’s clean-up at a meeting in Palmerston North on Friday 12 June. 

The discussion was informed by a statement on state, trends and recommendations prepared by a science and matauranga Maori panel in March. This panel comprised representatives from Massey University, Horizons Regional Council, Landcare Research, NIWA, Land Water People, DOC, Cawthron Institute, Fish & Game, Dairy NZ and Rangitaane o Manawatū .

Horizons science and freshwater manager Dr Jon Roygard, who presented the statement to Forum members, said most of panel’s recommendations supported continuing or enhancing the work already underway. However, there were still issues with nutrients, clarity and bacteria that needed to be addressed.

“It takes time for trees to grow and make a difference in keeping sediment on our hills and out of the river and it will take time for the work we carry out today to reach its optimum level,” Dr Roygard said.

“This is no short term process, but the panel believes that by continuing current actions, building on these in areas where we have gaps and implementing comprehensive monitoring networks to look at water quality, habitats, fish populations and cultural values, we can make a real difference to the future health of the Manawatū River.”

Independent Chair of the Manawatū River Leaders’ Forum Richard Thompson said the panel’s statement provided a useful guidepost for Forum members to look at recommended actions and identify areas that they could pick up on in their sector groups.

“From here Forum members will split off into groups representing iwi, environment, recreation, industry and local government to determine the actions they can take in their sectors to aid the River’s improvement. In September we will come back together to discuss these actions, with a view to launching a revised Action Plan to our communities in November that will set a clear pathway for the River.”

Chairman of Horizons Regional Council Bruce Gordon was also supportive of the direction being taken to revise the Action Plan.

“Four years on from the launch of the initial Action Plan, I think this Forum can be pretty proud of what it has achieved in terms of collaboration and works on the ground, but our journey is by no means complete. Revising the Action Plan with this steer from the science and matauranga Maori panel will help keep things on track and accelerate our efforts into the future.”

The science and matauranga Maori panel’s statement and further information about work being carried out under the Manawatu River Leaders’ Accord is available from website www.manawaturiver.co.nz