In a year which had the biggest change to environmental legislation in the last 20 years, we’ve seen increased interest by the Government and by developers in commercialising the conservation estate. With a widening shortfall of generation, we can expect that there will be increased interest in exporting power from areas such as the West Coast. Combine these changes to weakened protection provided by the Resource Management Act and the future looks bleak for rivers. However - it’s not all doom and gloom. Considerable efforts by Whitewater NZ members and officers this year have made great strides toward protecting some of our most outstanding whitewater resources.
Whitewater NZ have also made progress internally this year, by looking at our communications, administration, and also by changing our name. You’ll see some new faces on the Executive after the AGM, and particular thanks go to outgoing Vice-President Duncan Catanach, Editor Michelle Wallace, Membership Officer Alan Bell, Conservation Officer Glenn Murdoch and Admin Officer Anne Smith. Duncan’s input into conservation, policy and research has been particularly valuable to Whitewater NZ. Michelle’s excellent contribution as Editor and also in the Communications space will be missed, and Alan’s relationship with clubs and individual members has been an important reason why he’s been a stable and effective member of the Executive. May the rivers flow for you!
Together with a range of other conservation organisations, including the Department of Conservation and Forest and Bird, Whitewater NZ have appealed the decision to allow Meridian Energy to build a dam and destroy the Mokihinui River on the South Island West Coast. The appeal will presumably be heard in the Environment Court early in 2011.
DOC and Meridian have applied for the Environment Court process to be put on hold. This is because as well as consents, Meridian also needs a concession from DOC to inundate the conservation estate, and so far they have failed to gain this. They applied for a concession in April 2008 and withdrew it when they realised it would fail, then applied for a land-exchange in December 2008 but that did not work so they have withdrawn that also. Right now they are treading water trying to find a viable land-exchange, and suffice to say that Whitewater NZ is trying to end that process by opposing their request to put the case on hold.
In most recent news, a Whitewater NZ film project has produced a film that has just been selected for showing in the Wanaka Mountain Film Festival. It will probably also feature in other festivals both nationally and internationally, catch it if you can.
A lot has been written about the Hurunui and the new Canterbury legislation in the last few months. As Chris Todd from Forest and Bird said - the train has wrecked. There are some surprising and positive themes emerging from the train wreck which will shape our next steps. The biggest positive which resulted from the sacking of Environment Canterbury (ECAN) councillors and the dissolution of the Water Conservation Order for the Hurunui River was the increase in awareness and active participation of a wide range of Cantabrians, who spoke out in defence of their river. The Labour Party have pledged that if they are successful at forming a Government at the next election then they will repeal this legislation.
Thank you to all Whitewater NZ members who submitted on the WCO, wrote again in relation to the Hurunui Water Project Resource Consent process, and got back on their computers to write to their Members of Parliament after the legislation change. Your views have been heard. Whitewater NZ has joined the North Canterbury Fish and Game Council, Forest and Bird and the Water Rights Trust to formally request that a moratorium be placed on water permits allowing the taking, use, damming and diverting of the Hurunui River. Moratoria are a positive aspect of the new legislation and in particular, a moratorium for the Hurunui would effectively place the Hurunui Water Project application to dam the Hurunui River and take water on hold.
In a joint letter sent recently to the Comissioners now running ECAN, the groups argue that the Hurunui is approaching full allocation even before an allocation and flow regime is settled, and note, "If the Canterbury Water Management Strategy is to have any chance of success in North Canterbury, it must have time to work through the best available options to deliver irrigation in a sustainable manner and also deliver benefits to other values such as cultural values, environmental values and recreation." The CWMS process also allows the consideration of alternative schemes that could achieve similar benefits with less damaging effects.
Whitewater NZ appealed a decision to grant consent to build a dam on the Matiri river. During subsequent mediation, more information was forthcoming from the applicant than in the original consent application, and it was discovered that there would actually be little impact on flows for kayaking (which thankfully answered the main reason to appeal), but that the clause to “decommission” the project at the end of its design life amounted to nothing more that turning the light off when the last person left. A new bond to remove the dam and some km of penstocks was negotiated, which answered all of our issues so Whitewater NZ then withdrew its appeal.
A team led by Glenn Murdoch did a great job submitting on the addition of the Nevis River to the Kawarau Water Conservation Order. A decision is expected soon. A video made for the hearing was selected for the Wanaka Mountain Film Festival, and in the opinion of some kayaker/climber viewers, made some of the international climbing entries look like a comfy stroll to the local cafe. Big thanks to Pete Simpson for the spectacular thrashing!
Central Plains Water
In June the commissioner’s decision for Central Plains Water was released. The Whitewater NZ team did a great job defending flows and intake safety for kayakers (the Waimakariri intake is on the outside of the bend at the take-out for the Coast-to-Coast section) and have been successful on almost every aspect. We are currently considering whether to appeal the decision on the remaining aspects, mostly mid-week flows, but irrespective of that a great job has been done by a small group of people.
Back in winter 2009 Network Tasman was winding up a pre-feasibility study into building a series of dams on the Matakitaki River. Thanks largely to work by Debs Martin of Forest & Bird, they were forced to consult a little more widely than first intended. Tony Ward-Holmes then co-ordinated the effort to make sure kayakers voices were heard, resulting in feedback consisting of a 300+ page document with contributions by in excess of 200 people; printed, bound and delivered to every Network Tasman trustee and director.
Well known multi-sporter Nathan Fa'avae was later put forward by paddlers as a candidate in the Network Tasman Trust election and won a position as a trustee. This has all been a real shot across their bows, putting Network Tasman on notice that thousands of people value the Matakitaki just the way it is; a free-flowing, wild river. Thanks to everyone that voted for Nathan or contributed to the feedback, and especially to the crew in Nelson and Christchurch that helped assemble it all.
Other Conservation News
No news is good news for the Kaituna, Mokau, and Waitaha Rivers. We acknowledge the extensive efforts of local paddlers and the wider kayaking community in working together to preserve these nationally important kayaking rivers.
Along with Fish & Game, Forest & Bird and others we are members of the Wild Rivers campaign and Glenn Murdoch has worked hard to conjure up an accomplished website for the campaign. Recently our Conservation Officers attended a two day conference to discuss key strategies to work together across a range of Conservation NGOs to save our Wild Rivers. As partners we’re getting smarter and people are working more closely together - efficiencies and information sharing that are important as we consider the threats our rivers face.
Our representative on both the Land and Water Forum and the Canterbury Water Management Strategy, Hugh Canard is still attending meetings of this Government appointed group to develop high level strategy on water, despite the Canterbury legislation which breached trust and created difficulties for continued participation for a range of representatives.
Research on rivers
More passionate debate about how to measure the value of rivers for kayakers has been had this year, with particular reference to the methodology decribed as the RIVAS “expert” survey that is being developed for regional councils in their regional planning processes. Whitewater NZ has been a key partner in developing this research, however we do have concerns about our continued participation, given that the issues we’ve raised during the peer review process have not been picked up.
So many people have contributed to the conservation battle this year that it is inevitable some will be left off this list, but apologies in advance and here goes anyway; thanks to: Doug Rankin, Graeme Wilson, Robin Rutter-Baumann, Ian Gill-Fox, Ken Livingston, Maree Baker, Emily Arthur, Roy Bailey, Gordy Raynor, Antz Longman, Andy England, Dave Ritchie, Mick Hopkinson, Jess Brown, Zak Shaw, Pauline Hervey, Richard Barry, Keith Riley, Sean Bellamy, Bernie Kelly, Dave Kwant, Bill Parks, Ben Brown, Duncan Catanach, Whitewater NZ Conservation Officers Glenn Murdoch and Tony Ward-Holmes, and especially to our Patron, Hugh Canard.
Some real wins and continued improved relationships in our access work for this year has characterised work done by Mike Birch, Access Officer, and by local kayakers. Notably, the National Park Management Plans for Aspiring National Park and Kahurangi National Park have been amended to support continued kayaking use of important multiday helicopter runs, the Waiatoto and Karamea Rivers. Access to other rivers in both parks was also acknowledged and kayakers needs taken into account with other user groups.
Mike continues to work on access to the Mangahao River. Last October's release was cancelled at the last minute when a gate failed to open. Equipment testing is now carried out in the week proir to a release so that the chance of a late cancellation is minimised. Mike is working with Mangahao Joint Venture to schedule replacement releases. Robin Rutter-Baumann continues his excellent work as Whitewater NZ representative on the Tekapo Whitewater Trust. As the scheme transfers ownership from Meridian to Genesis, Robin has continued to develop relationships, making it possible to improve the resource at the Tekapo Whitewater Course, which is an important slalom and play site for a range of kayaking users.
Education and Safety
It’s fortunately been a quiet year on the safety front in terms of accidents and near misses. We’ve continued to work with Water Safety NZ to provide funding to members for safety and rescue courses, however there have been difficulties in guaranteeing funding, so if you’re organising a course always contact email@example.com to confirm that the subsidy is available.
Matt, who is both our Education and Safety Officer, has been working with NZOIA and Water Safety NZ to look at new ways to provide safety benefits to our members.
As usual the newsletters speak for themselves. Of particular note this year is the “Blacker Issue” which is the unfortunate follow-up from 2008’s “Black Issue”. We can only hope that we won’t soon feel compelled to release a “Blackest Issue”. Michelle Wallace has also had to contend with the brand change to Whitewater NZ as well as the requests for her to produce negatives of the usual format.
More thank yous
Particular thanks this year go to Josh Neilsen, who has donated the proceeds for public showings of his movie, Realm, to Whitewater NZ. Another example of a notable New Zealand kayaker supporting Whitewater NZ was the commitment by Mick Hopkinson of the New Zealand Kayak School, who has undertaken to donate a percentage of the profits on the sales of whitewater kayaks to Whitewater NZ.
Clubs and individuals have stepped forward and donated towards conservation funds for specific rivers, and also to support the wider work of the Whitewater NZ. Thank you very much to all those who have taken this step. May the rivers flow for you!
Finally - it’s been a very busy year for Whitewater NZ, and our work would not have been possible without your support. As a member of Whitewater NZ, you provide the base from which we are able to advocate to protect our whitewater resources, and look at new ways for kayakers to enjoy them safely.
Web Report - rivers.org.nz
A steady year, with the major achievement being the migration of rivers.org.nz to a full content management system (CMS, in this case Drupal 5) including all forums and image galleries. This removes various constraints and should see a more dynamic and functional site in the near future. Some enhancements achieved to date are the addition of personal accounts, image uploads to forum posts (useful in the ever-popular Buy, Sell & Swap forum) and slideshows for image galleries.
Some progress has been made towards updating to Drupal 6. The Whitewater NZ Guide has seen some new sections and corrections and comments.
No progress was made in getting access to NIWA flow data, though Tasman District Council have mentioned they may be able to offer a feed of flow data.
Whitewater NZ rebranded following the 2009 AGM. This change has been rolled out to rivers.org.nz, though a few supporting documents (e.g. Membership forms) are still being updated.
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.
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.
- Complete upgrade to Drupal 6.
- Implement new look and feel (Mike Birch is leading redesign).
- Implement web-based membership management.
- Trial paid advertising on key pages (eg. home page, forums).
- Re-establish an email based announcement list.
- Offer pages formatted for mobile devices.
- Pursue NIWA flow data.
- Expand River Guide with Rivers and Sections from various regional surveys.
- Update Guide to the Whanganui River to edition 18.
During 2009/10 membership has increased steadily with 33 new individual members and several clubs joined for the first time or reaffiliated as full member clubs after several years of absence. These include Victoria CC, New Plymouth KC, Palmerston North CC and BugSports Club. A significant new club emerged from Murchison and affiliated 93 members.
The table below gives numbers of affiliated members by club. There are many kayakers who benefit from the work of other clubs and Whitewater NZ but who choose to remain anonymous.
|Whitewater Canoe Club||180|
|Nelson Canoe Club||100|
|Otago Canoe & Kayak Club||100|
|Kupe Canoe Club||94|
|Ruahine Whitewater Club||56|
|Otago University Canoe Club||50|
|Hawkes Bay Canoe Club||50|
|University of Canterbury CC||40|
|Hutt Valley Canoe Club||40|
|Victoria University Canoe Club||32|
|Northland Canoe Club||30|
|Auckland University Canoe Club||20|
|New Plymouth Kayak Club||20|
|Palmerston North CC||20|
|Waikato Kayak Club||20|
|Westland Canoe Club||10|
|River City Canoe Club||10|
|Wairarapa Paddlers Inc||10|
|Environmental WW Park Trust||7|
|Canoe Slalom NZ||5|
|Auckland University of Technology KC||5|
|Manukau Canoe & Adventure Club||5|
Operating surplus of $4,384 was up $4,269 on the previous year.
Revenue increased $2,300. Annual subscriptions were up $2,600, the best in five years or more. General donations increased by more than $400 and a special request for donations to defend the threat to the Hurunui yielded a further $1,700. Revenue from publications was similar to 2009, although newsletter advertising increased and New Zealand Whitewater sales dropped to only one copy during 2010.
Expenditure was down some $2,000. Portfolio costs decreased $300, with no registered expense for access or safety and education in contrast with a further increase in conservation costs, up more than $1,500. Net cost of publications was up $700, mostly through three published newsletters versus two the previous year. DVD project expenditure was down $1,600 on 2009, although at the time of writing a $2100 invoice for work to 17 May had just been processed. Depreciation on Adobe Indesign software was completed leaving a nil total book value for property and equipment at 31 March 2010.
Once again Anne worked on a voluntary basis and drew no honorarium.
Financial Position and Movement in Equity
Net wealth was $39,853 at the end of the financial period. Assets decreased $3,100 and liabilities of $7,400 were discharged with the complete distribution of remaining Water Safety New Zealand funds.
There were no accounts payable. Accounts receivable increased nearly $900, all for newsletter advertising and similar to past performance, the only difference being one of timing of debtor account payments. Book value of software was depreciated $220 to nil value. NZ Whitewater equity increased by $4,384 from $35,468 at 31 March 2009.
Annual Audit of Accounts
Audits of 2008/09 and 2009/10 annual accounts were both due at time of writing. Audits for the previous two years were completed by WHK Cook Adam at a cost of some $1,800. The two years due will be audited free of charge by Rob Wells.