An aging whitewater paddler and multisporter take their grandchildren for a trip up north. On the way they stop beside Lake Utiku. The grandfather says to the grandmother, "Do you remember your first paddle down the old river?" Grandmother replies with a whimiscal look, "How could I forget, I thought the waves were at least 10 feet high and I was terrified". The grandchildren look up and wonder what the two old dears are talking about. Grandfather smiles as he remembers the good old days.
One grandchild says "What do you mean your first paddle?". Grandmother replies, "When I was young I used to whitewater kayak and this used to be a river. I had my first trip and swim down there somewhere." The child smiles and asks what happened to the river. Grandfather tells how the river became a lake due to a hydro electric scheme.
"Did you paddle this river Granddad?" asks one child. "Yes, it was when I was young and into multisport. A group of us often used to come up here and train. Some clubs used to organise a race on the river. They were so much fun. You would all paddle off down the river and have this wonderful sense of adventure. Even though you were racing you could still look at the great scenery and we all used to think how lucky we were to be able to do this sort of thing. I guess we took it for granted".
"Did nobody try and save the river?" asks the other child. Both the grandparents look slightly agitated.
"Yes, some people tried but it all costs money and in the end they just did not have enough. It happened so fast." says Grandma.
"What did you do to stop it Granddad?"
"I was young and busy training. Gee, I hadnít even met your Grandmother let alone thought about having children. I had to work and when I wasnít doing that I was training. I guess Iím guilty of thinking someone else would look after that sort of stuff."
"Can you still paddle rivers Grandma?"
"They did manage to save some but what with the pressures of farming and electricity and with a growing population the rivers really suffered. You are still allowed to paddle the Waimak down south and some West Coast rivers in National Parks but they are so crowded and you need a permit. It's just not the same."
"Look Grandma thereís a boat on the lake - I guess some people still have fun," says the child. Grandma and Granddad sigh and with a look of sadness they wander back to the car and continue their journey.
Maybe this is a picture of the future - let's hope not. Help prevent it from happening by supporting the NZRCA now. We are the one of the few organisations that specifically targets rivers for conservation and we are the only national organisation that looks after your recreational paddling environment.
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