Well, it was a lovely day for a walk in the countryside.
Pity about the cow-poo in the river, though!

Te Awamutu branch invited Waikato members (& some locals who are interested) along to see for themselves just what the water quality degradation is like in our region.
This was to have been a “Dirty Rivers Tour” kayak down the river, with Russel Norman and Eugenie Sage leading the way, but the drought has led to lower water levels than usual, to the point where kayaking was deemed irresponsible.
Eugenie came along, fresh from appearing on TV earlier in the day in Auckland on The Nation for TV3.

Local farmer Keith Hutton liased with farmers Gary Charlston and John Pievenga so that our group, ably led by Te Awamutu Branch convenor Leane Steele, could have an up-close-and-personal tour of the banks of the Waipa River, and see for ourselves what the risks are from stock grazing on the river margins.

We were also lucky enough to have Regional Councillors Stu Kneebone and Paula Southgate with us, to give an overview of how the WRC is dealing with water quality management and current trends in water quality, along with District Councillor Laurie Hoverd.

From the Pievenga’s farm we were able to see some examples of riparian planting along a stream on the farm, and some riverside remediation work across the river on the site of the 1820’s battle at Matakitaki, an area of land that has been recently returned to the local iwi alongside Purekireki Marae. The Waipa flows swiftly here, and seems narrow – I had to be reminded by a local that during the land wars, British flat-hulled battleships were steamed up these rivers to deliver troops into the battles. Much history here, amongst the green and wooded rolling hills, with the river looping and twisting.

Another piece of local lore shared was to do with the Pirongia Restoration Society, who have run environmental projects on Mt Pirongia for a while now, beginning with a pilot area in 2006 and now working to bring the birds back into Pirongia Forest Park all over the peak of the mountain.
They have funding from Waikato River Authority to get an envirocentre going in Pirongia Village, and have a project to restore the river margins along the Waipa River, in partnership with Waipa District Council and the Pirongia Residents and Ratepayers’ Association. Grassroots action at it’s best, with huge local community support.

Update:
I completely forgot to plug the work Eugenie has been doing on the RMA, which is under threat of further dilution by National. See here for the submission guide and links to relevant information. Deadline 5pm, Tuesday 2nd April 2013 – that’s straight after the Easter break.

I’m only going to say something briefly about the job losses at DoC – it stinks, and 140 more redundant public servants is not how to improve the ‘bottom line’, Mr Key, especially whilest there is more legislation in the works to demonise the unemployed – how is adding to the pool of well-qualified, experienced unemployed going to help matters?
Canberra will once more be absorbing our best and brightest, at what cost to our future viability as a functioning nation? This is such venal and short-sighted ‘cost-cutting’ that I’m tempted to rant at length about corruption amongst Government Ministers, since it so obviously prefers the enactment of policies that favour MNC’s who wish to operate in our country.

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