Whitewater New Zealand has joined Fish and Game and other recreation and environmental groups in launching a campaign to raise public awareness of river protection in New Zealand. The campaign www.OutstandingRivers.org.nz aims to publicise Water Conservation Orders (WCOs) already granted on some of New Zealand’s outstanding rivers and to support strengthening WCO protection. WCOs are only granted after a successful lengthy application and hearing process and offer the highest level of protection of water bodies in New Zealand. There are still a number of iconic rivers in New Zealand that do not have any recognition nor protection for their outstanding values.
Whitewater New Zealand, which represents the interests of whitewater paddlers in New Zealand, has long recognized that WCOs are essentially the only tool that provide recognition and protection of the outstanding kayaking and whitewater values of many of New Zealand’s Wild and Scenic rivers that are outside our National Parks.
"The status afforded by a WCO to a river is of immense value to our members and the New Zealand public", said Dr Doug Rankin, Conservation Officer for Whitewater New Zealand. "WCOs recognize the values of our rivers, be they iwi, scenic, fishery, whitewater, ecological or recreation values, and afford a measure of protection against future development and inappropriate exploitation. Only one other country in the world, the USA, offers similar protection to its outstanding rivers, through its Wild and Scenic Rivers Act."
Since the granting of the first WCO on the Motu River in 1984 (primarily for its whitewater recreation and wilderness and scenic values) Whitewater New Zealand has actively worked alongside Fish & Game and others to obtain many of the WCOs now in place, including those on the Ahuriri, Rangitikei, Mohaka, Grey, Buller (and tributaries), Kawarau, Motueka, Whanganui and Rangitata.
"It is indeed fortunate for Whitewater New Zealand and the public that many of the rivers prized for their fishery values throughout New Zealand are similarly prized by our members for wilderness, whitewater and recreational values. The synergy from different values strengthens WCO applications significantly when they are considered by Tribunals or the Environment Court."
"Whitewater New Zealand sincerely hopes to be able to continue its support for Fish and Game as we collectively continue to work towards a network of WCOs to preserve some of our iconic New Zealand river heritage for future generations to enjoy."
For more information contact:
Dr Douglas Rankin