Malcolm Peacey CC BY-SA 2.0

We want swimmable rivers

Tukituki River

The Tukituki river is a beautiful, seemingly flawless braided river flowing through the central Hawkes Bay. As she flows past Te Mata Peak, she is picture-postcard perfect. But in the summer, low water levels and farm run-off often result in her being choked with toxic algal blooms. The regional council think they can solve this by reducing the amount of water being taken from the river by nearby farms, but the demand for water remains.

The proposed Ruataniwha Dam further up the catchment has been touted as a solution to the water demand problem.

However, the dam will have devastating results for the environment, including more pollution for the Tukituki and loss of habitat for native species.

With irrigation and water storage schemes comes more intensive agriculture, and with that comes water pollution. See our guide to what causes water pollution here.

Forest and Bird, EDS, Fish and Game and the Green Party have led the charge against the Hawkes Bay Regional Investment Company, the regional council’s economic development arm, who are behind the dam project. Forest and Bird have pointed out the loss of habitat for native fish, as well as a unique forest, home to native birds and animals.

The Department of Conservation has been missing in action; instead of advocating for the protection of nature, they are doing a land swap to help the dam project go ahead.

What are your memories and stories about the Tukituki river?

To make the Tukituki safe for swimming again, the Green Party will:

  • Keep wild rivers wild by not building new water storage schemes.
  • Require as a minimum that all water bodies be safe for swimming in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater. Management, rather than the current ‘safe for wading and boating’ standard.
  • Develop national standards to limit the amount of pollution going into water.
  • Wind up Crown Irrigation Investments, a subsidy used to fund water storage and irrigation schemes.
  • Put a levy on pollution going into rivers. We’ll use this money to support sustainable land and water management programmes like freshwater habitat restoration.
  • Ensure Māori are recognised and supported in their role as kaitiaki  of their taonga and tikanga.
  • Put a hold on all new conversions of land to dairy farms.
  • Require resource consents in cases where the proposed land use is more intensive than the current land use.
  • Introduce rules that require all farms to be fenced from rivers and creeks, and for riverbanks to be planted so that excess run-off is absorbed.
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