It's been another busy year for kayaking and for river conservation. Locally and nationally, the Canterbury earthquakes have had an impact on Whitewater NZ membership and Executive. Like many in Canterbury, two Executive members can no longer live in their houses, and one is still working in the red zone. We acknowledge the impact the quakes have had on local clubs and kayakers; the Arawa Canoe Club boatsheds are in the liquefaction zone, the Avon, local beaches and the lower Waimakariri are not clean enough to use, and canoe polo and rolling practice is largely not possible due to damage to city council swimming pools.
Highlights from the year include assisting Hugh Canard to fly 120 paddlers, rafters, VIPs, journalists and the like into the Mokihinui River over Labour weekend, gaining coverage in the Press, Westland News, Nelson Evening Mail and on TV3 coverage. The movie “A Tale of Two Rivers”, partially funded by Whitewater NZ, has also promoted preservation of the Mokihinui in its untarnished state.
The Executive hopes that with less seismic excitement we will be in a position to be more proactive in the coming year. We have signed our Conservation Strategy, and this will be a key tool to help us promote (and help others understand) our position re conservation, and even the pragmatic trade-offs which we have to make. We need to promote this strategy more over coming months. This will support our engagement with Regional Councils across the country, to develop regional strategies for kayaking.
Good news for Mokau River paddlers
Some very welcome news arrived in June, when King Country Energy withdrew their Environment Court appeal against Waikato Regional Council for declining KCE's application to build a dam on the Mokau. KCE issued a media release claiming that "Waikato Regional Council granted us the supplementary consents required to construct a roller compacted concrete dam on the Mokau River", which is an interesting take on the fact that they'd been granted consent to build a quarry but certainly not to construct a dam. The declined consents were a deserved result of the great work of local kayakers, New Plymouth and Waikato Canoe Club members and Alan Bell for Whitewater NZ. Craig Peters is organising a celebration paddle and river-side bbq on Sept 3, followed by a banquet at Hamilton Tomo Group hut.
The KCE media release went on to note that "high consenting costs on smaller developments are a significant hurdle", and "it can take smaller generators a lot longer to find the right project and get it online.", to which we can only reply:
Yes, exactly! All generators, not just small generators, should be prioritising projects like wind and geothermal that don't trash non-renewable rivers. This is one of the reasons Hugh Canard has been so active on the Land and Water Forum, ensuring that collaboration is early and developers don't get committed to projects that are damaging, unpopular amongst local communities and stakeholders, and likely to result in expensive battles.
Mokihinui River update
The process regarding the Mokihinui River is still steaming ahead, albeit in slow motion as Meridian Energy has repeatedly sought to delay Environment Court proceedings. Dates for evidence to be submitted are now Q2 2012, with the hearing itself starting in June 2012. Meridian released an opinion-piece in the Dominion Post on Feb 11 which unfortunately the Dom would not let Whitewater NZ reply to. One of its most outrageous statements was that the 46 MW Arnold scheme combined with the 25 MW Stockton scheme would not meet the West Coast's demand for electricity. In fact Electricity Authority statistics show a highest peak daily demand of 57.6 MW so far this year. The average daily peak demand is 47.1 MW, not much more than the Arnold by itself.. and Meridian ignored the fact that the Coast already generates 18 MW which with the Arnold would usually supply West Coast demand even without Stockton. One wonders if this kind of deception will be employed in Meridian's evidence to the Environment Court.
This year has been largely dominated by the Environment Canterbury (Temporary Commissioners and Improved Water Management) Act 2010, enacted in April 2010, and by commitments to the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS).
The Act replaced elected Environment Canterbury (ECan) councilors with government-appointed Commissioners until the 2013 elections, and also cheapened the role of water conservation orders (WCOs) by adding an additional Canterbury-only test – even if the water body meets the test of national significance required around the rest of the country, in Canterbury an additional economic test is now applied.
The CWMS has “split” water issues for Canterbury into ten different zones, and assigned a zone committee in each zone to develop via community consultation a zone implementation plan which is intended to achieve the overall objectives of the CWMS.
Graeme Wilson has presented to the Selwyn-Waihora, Hurunui-Waiau and Waimakariri zone committees to help ensure that kayaking values are understood and reflected in the plans that the committees develop. The Whitewater Club are involved at a number of levels, and particular thanks are due to Ian Gill Fox for his input and the tireless energy Hugh Canard, who has been appointed to the Regional committee.
Shortly after their appointment the Commissioners placed a moratorium on the Hurunui River to prevent any further water takes, and subsequently placed one on the Waiau River. The Water Conservation Order application Whitewater NZ and Fish and Game had in progress was at the stage where an Environment Court hearing would be required. After a considerable amount of thought and a series of meetings with the ECan Commissioners and the Hurunui Water Project, we and our co-applicant Fish and Game eventually agreed to withdraw our WCO application, and since then we have been working through the CWMS committee process with the Hurunui-Waiau Zone Committee.
Central Plains Water
Graeme has continued to be involved in mediation meetings re the Central Plains Water (CPW) proposals for the Waimakariri. The main issue of concern which has us involved in mediation is that CPW appealed the holiday rule which the commissioners inserted to allow for improved flows during key times of river use. Fish and Game have proposed an amendment to the holiday rule which will benefit salmon fishing at very little impact to kayaking.
Other Water Conservation Order news Trustpower has sought approval for a change to the Rakaia River WCO. They plan to “bank” water in Lake Coleridge and then release this for someone else‟s irrigation scheme – and also to generate.
It's likely that the Nevis River WCO will be challenged in the Environment Court in 2012. Central Otago Whitewater are working with key partners including Fish and Game to protect the river in its natural state.
And more broadly…
Tony Ward Holmes and Nick Clendon, Whitewater NZ Conservation Officers often submit on legislation and policy that effects kayaking, including two policies released recently. Suffice to say however, it is difficult for Whitewater NZ to be heard amongst much better-resourced commercial and political interests. In May the government released the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. The draft policy was developed by a board of inquiry with substantial consultation up and down the country, followed by endorsement by the Land and Water Forum. The final version has been emasculated by the government though, with Dr Mike Joy, Director of the Centre for Freshwater Ecosystem Management and Modeling at Massey University commenting: "It's hard to see how this long-overdue freshwater NPS will make any difference to the state of NZs waterways when it contains no national standards and farming intensification, arguably the biggest issue for freshwater quality and quantity, is not addressed."
More recently the government released the NPS for Renewable Electricity Generation. Again this policy is substantially different from the draft and it has turned into a disaster for kayakers. Two of the main issues are that it requires councils to make special provision for developing electrical generation in their regional plans, and makes changes to the RMA so that offsets or compensation can be used instead of mitigating , remedying or avoiding environmental effects. It barely paid lip service to any notion of conserving the energy we already have... the 8th highest per capita in the OECD. The writing was on the wall at the government official's responses part of the hearing: a stunning spring day in Wellington, sun pouring in through 5m high windows, and bouncing off the drawn curtains behind which the hearing proceeded under electric lights and heating. Nobody commented on the irony.
Treasurers Report Financial Performance
Operating surplus of $10,130 was up $5,746 on the previous year. Revenue increased $15,497. Annual subscriptions were down $5,890 on last year.
However total donations were up $16,284. Revenue from publications was similar to 2010 with a slight decrease of $437. Income from Mohikinui DVD sales and donations amounted to $5,540.
Expenditure was up some $9,961. Portfolio costs decreased $3,800, with only very small charges for both conservation and legal costs. Net cost of publications was up $782, mostly due to publishing in colour. DVD project expenditure was up $8,437 on 2010, with Hurunui costs of $2,700 (these were offset by Hurunui donations from White Water canoe club).
Jo Mair was engaged on a contract for service to complete essential administration tasks throughout the year at a cost of $1,842.
Financial Position and Movement in Equity
Net wealth was $49,982 at the end of the financial period. Assets increased $10,130, made up by an increase in accounts receivable of $900 (all for newsletter advertising) with the bank balance increasing by $9,230 mainly due to the increase in donations received during the year.
Whitewater NZ equity increased by $10,130 from $39,853 at 31 March 2010.
Annual Audit of Accounts
Rob Wells is currently completing the audits of 2008/09 and 2009/10 annual accounts with both to be completed by the AGM. A volunteer is currently being sought to audit the 2010/11 accounts.
It's been a good year for Safety with few incidents or accidents to note on New Zealand rivers. Dave Annear has been talking with Maritime NZ to get a clearer picture of what is required where clubs run their own events and the distinction between club trips, club races and commercial activities. This has led to Maritime NZ informally saying that there is a distinction between club trips and commercial trips and where possible the clubs should make best endeavours to bring themselves up to a higher standard and keep records of the trips taken. It is suggested that clubs running club races may also wish to look at how their races are run and to have an action plan in place for the event with nominated rescue and first aid people in place, this does not need to be as detailed as a commercial race but should provide guidance on appropriate responses should an accident occur. We will continue to press Maritime NZ for a formal response on these issues, and to also provide more detail, on behalf of member clubs.
New Membership Officer Jo Dovey has brushed off the Excel spreadsheet of Whitewater NZ member and the Executive decided to move to a web-based membership system. Jo has begun working with Pete Davis of Fuzion, who has kindly offered to set up a new membership system for us, which will help us to operate more efficiently, including sending automatic reminders to our members when their membership is about to lapse. We are looking forward to have this system up and running before the end of September.
Walking Access NZ
Jonathan Hunt and Mike Birch attended a meeting in Wellington with Walking Access NZ in September to discuss the new Walking Access website and provided them with feedback. Jonathan later provided further feedback relating to the Walking Access Mapping System and data. The website is now public at http://wams.org.nz/wams/
Access to the Rangitaiki River (Kaingaroa Forest)
In April 2011 there was some publicity in the media about access to the Kaingaroa forest for hunters and anglers, and Whitewater NZ contacted Timberlands to request free access for kayakers to the Rangitaiki River. Unfortunately this has not been granted. There is public access to the put-in (Jeff‟s Joy section http://rivers.org.nz/nz/bay-of-plenty/rangitaiki/jeffs-joy-run) on a public access easement that goes from Murupara to the put-in, but no access to Tautika Rd and the take-out (Rimu Rd) as well.
Access (off the easement) can only be obtained by purchasing access permits which are subject to a registration fee. Permits are for weekends/daylight hours only.
Tongariro and Waikaremoana releases.
Mike Birch has continued to work with Genesis Energy and Hawkes Bay Canoe club to coordinate the releases on the Tongariro, Whakapapa and Waikaretaheke Rivers.
There were some modifications made in 2009 which were tested in July 2009 The playhole has been open for use by kayakers since April 2010. The playhole is rideable at flows of 20 cumecs and higher. A sign is now up at the playhole which has the “rules of use” displayed. There is a staff gauge on the upstream side of the playhole which indicates when the flow is above 20 cumecs. The flow in the canal is also available via the Genesis flow phone: 07 386 8113 and press 2.
Listen for the flow in the Wairehu canal.
Two Mangahao releases were scheduled for October 2010. 9 October 2010: a replacement release for the cancellation in October last year. 30 October 2010: the spring release for 2010.
In February 2011, Mangahao Joint Venture wrote to Whitewater NZ to advise that the Mangahao Number 2 bypass gate was damaged. The damage had occured at the sides and top sealing sills of the gate. As a result of the damage, Mangahao Joint Venture decided to only operate the gate on safety grounds until it has either been repaired or replaced. The work wasn't completed by June 2011 and will hopefully be completed during the next dry period - summer 2011/2012.
Tekapo Whitewater Trust
Robin Rutter-Baumann wishes to stand down from the Tekapo Whitewater Trust, and we are calling for expressions of interest from those who may be interested in participating in the Tekapo Whitewater Slalom site.
The newsletter changed hands this year from Michelle Wallace to Miriam Odlin which always involves a learning curve. At the end of 2010 we branched out and printed in colour and increased our advertising rates to match the increase in printing cost. The colour has proved popular and showcases all those bright plastic boats on sunny rivers. The newsletter ran at a loss this year. Alternative printing firms outside the editor's hometown are being trialed to reduce this cost.
Stats: 3 newsletters produced and distributed. Total Cost: $5,284.04 Total Income: $2,036.00 Net cost: $3,248.04
A quiet year, disrupted by the February 22 earthquake in Christchurch. Progress has continued with the major upgrade of the content management system (CMS) for the website from Drupal 5 to 6. This includes a revised look & feel based on work by Mike Birch and Deflux Design.
There has been a trickle of content onto rivers.org.nz but Jonathan Hunt, our webmaster is in need of a content editor to gather and publish relevant material. The news and Buy, Sell & Swap forum remain popular, and the river guide is increasing use.
No progress has been made in getting access to NIWA flow data, though river flow data is slowly being made more accessible on council websites.
As Jon mentioned last year, “The CMS-based site still has the potential to offer an exciting platform for a highly functional and interactive website, offering social networking features and ways of gathering river usage data in an ongoing survey. The rapid global deployment of social networking web applications in the realm of advocacy groups is a massive opportunity to increase Whitewater NZ's reach and effectiveness. Sponsorship and/or additional volunteer effort will be required to realise this vision.”
As last year, “usage has been flat for a while, reflecting the lack of substantial new content (articles, photos) compared to the current use of the forums, news and events.”
On-line River Guide
Most people are now aware that Graham Charles’ superb guidebook NZ Whitewater is now online at rivers.org.nz/nz. You can log into the site and post comments to update your paddling community on new hazards or your tips for a particular section.
Guide to the Whanganui River
Jonathan updated the guide to edition 18.
If you have an comments or feedback for Whitewater NZ, of if you‟d like to volunteer your time and expertise to help us advocate for river conservation, access and safety, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We‟d love to hear from you.
Thank you very much for your support. May the rivers flow for you!
President Whitewater NZ