Blog Archives for 2008


Media Release

New steps to protect sports fisheries from rock snot

To reduce the risk of didymo spread, Conservation
Minister Steve Chadwick today agreed to the New Zealand Fish and Game Council recommendation
to restrict the use of footwear with felt soles by fishing licence holders.

Our world-famous trout fisheries are threatened by
the invasive alga ‘rock snot’, or didymo. While didymo is currently only in
South Island rivers, it could be easily
spread to other places and we are taking these steps now to protect our
precious waterways,” Steve Chadwick said.

The new condition is part of the Anglers Notice and
comes into affect from the beginning of the fishing season on 1 October.

The New Zealand Fish and Game Council has recommended
that people who hold a licence to fish for trout, and other sports fish, should
contribute to the national campaign to halt the spread of didymo by not using felt-soled
waders when fishing.

Given that felt-soled waders, and similar footwear,
are very difficult to clean using the ‘Check Clean Dry’ approach, I have accepted the Council’s advice.

It is important that fishers realise that this restriction
does not remove the risk of didymo spread – it will address one particularly
high risk, but we still need them to continue to be vigilant about cleaning
other equipment.

The ‘Check Clean Dry’ practice
is critical to fight against didymo and other freshwater pests. Fishers have a
special responsibility to help care for the trout fisheries that are the basis
of their sport, and I urge them to continue to vigilantly follow Biosecurity

I will also be asking both
the Department of Conservation and Fish and Game councils to increase their
monitoring and education work relating to other vectors of didymo in freshwater,
as part of the Biosecurity NZ nationwide campaign.

I acknowledge that some anglers will need to
change the types of soles they use, however, no-one wants to see didymo spread
further, and the negative impact of didymo reaching their favourite fishery would
be far greater than meeting the costs of this restriction.

Some waders and boots used by freshwater fishers
have a sole made from a thick felted material, which poses a very high
biosecurity risk as micro-organisms, such as didymo, can become trapped in the
felt, and cannot be killed by the normal cleaning methods used with other
footwear. There are alternative soles
available, and waders can be re-soled.

Contact: Pip
Chapman, Press Secretary, Office of Hon Chadwick, (04) 471 9154 or (021) 270
9115 or www.beehive.govt.New


The months of July and the beginning of August have been marked by cold weather and high rainfall. The High Pressure systems are returning with cold frosts, cool days but fine weather. July and August have seen 4 significant floods which have cleaned the river bottom and  have produced decent runs of fish.
A word of warning
The river is to be respected at all times especially in rising water, flood water and after a flood. Two incidents that I am aware of occurred during this period which could have had tragic consequences. In rising water the river can rise very fast. It carries more debris than usual. Incident 1 was an angler fishing in fast rising water who although only knee deep was hit by a log and rolled a short distance as a result. In a flood it is dangerous to be in the water. In clearing water one must be aware that sediments are still soft and like quicksand and that it takes some time for the river bottom to again consolidate. The delta can be particularly dangerous for anglers walking the drop off into the lake and I am aware that in incident 2 an angler, in waders, was very lucky when the sand gave way and he was swept out into the lake.Fortunately, friends in a boat were able to save him.

The Integrated Catchment Management Plan.
The goal remains that this community have such a plan in place by the end of 2009. There seems to be a pause in progress while we find new wind to get this project under way again. Floods experienced to date this year with the largest at 500 cumecs have not tested the stopbanks and have caused little concern. It remains an essential need to have such a plan in place for the next significant flood which would be in excess of 1200 cumecs.

The issues have seen significant development.

Fish and Game have been able to present to the Minister a case to ban Felt soled boots and waders. This looks to come into place in the Fish and Game controlled area of New Zealand when the Minister has signed the law  in time for the new fishing season. When this does happen the Taupo Fishery will follow and there will be a nationwide ban on felt soled boots and waders. This is a courageous decision which we have fought for and we thank Fish and Game for taking up this action.
Some argue that such a ban sends the wrong message to anglers. They state that anglers will think that banning felt soled boots and waders is all that has to be done. We take the view that while banning felt soles is an important step, anglers will realise that the CHECK, CLEAN, DRY message must continue and that it is in the interests of every angler and anglers of the future that the North Island, and in particular the Taupo Fishery, remain Didymo free.

It was interesting to see a programme showing wilding pines as a problem weed in the South Island. Pinus Radiata has been the basis of a significant NZ industry. A negative of that industry is that the trees throw their seed which generate readily resulting in pine trees in unwanted places. They are then weeds. We have the view that the river environment should be as natural as possible and this does not allow for pine trees on the river margins.

Advocates Committee member, John Toogood, has vigorously lead  a programme to return the river environment to its natural state. Significant funding has been granted to allow a continuation of the elimination of wilding pines and we are grateful to Environment Waikato for this grant. We are thankful for the support given by our Environment Waikato Councillor, Laurie Burdett, for her efforts on our behalf and also to Kevin Collins, EW Natural Heritage Programme Manager.

In the last editorial, available in archives, Fisheries scientist Michel Dedual when asked why the fish no longer feed on green beetle (Manuka Beetle), replied that the natural manuka vegetation had disappeared and that the stand of Manuka was necessary as the habitat for green beetle. We will shortly acquire the plan from the Department of Conservation to allow us to continue with the planting programme of indigenous species already started with funding from The Waikato Catchment Ecological Enhancement Trust (WCEET).

Lake level
Tuesday 12 August, Taupo Mayor Rick Cooper has arranged a bus to take representatives of interested groups who believe that the consent granted to Mighty River Power by Environment Waikato should be reviewed. Representatives of the Advocates will go to the meeting of the Environment Waikato Regulatory committee to express our desire to see this happen. We are happy to work with Mighty River Power to see a new operating regime.
Recent high rainfall sees the lake rise to almost full in a short period of time. The current consent is that the high level is 357.25 meters above sea level and the low level is 355.85 meters above sea level. This margin of 1.4 meters is significant. We think that the 1.4 meter margin can remain but that the upper level should be lowered. Thus our support for a review of the consent.
Report from that meeting: The decision of the Regulatory committee was that the MRP consent would not be reviewed. The Mayor and other representatives were denied the right to speak at the meeting.

State of the Fishery
The last editorial dealt exclusively with this issue. Some nice fish are being caught in the latest runs but fish with bright orange flesh are not yet the norm. Size also remains small.
The Mangamawhitwhiti Land
The protest camp beside State Highway 1 bridge has moved, we understand, up the access road to this land. There is nothing further that we can report at this time.


Committee members met with Taupo District Council CEO, Rob Williams, on Monday 25 July for a frank exchange of views. We are hopeful that he will assist in improving access to the river and the lake.

We actively seek support from all who value this river. We have a valued support base from some who live in this community and from those who value the river for its value as a magnificent river in a magnificent environment. We urge readers of this website, and  those who have experienced the Tongariro, to support us to maintain the river in as near natural state as is possible today. Membership forms are available on this website.
Eric Wilson



Friday 18 July 2008

The Advocates for the Tongariro River (“Advocates”)
Advocates:  Heather Macdonald, Richard Kemp, Bob Appleton, Ross Baker
Department of Conservation (“DoC”)
DoC: John Gibbs, Glenn Maclean, Michel Dedual.

Issue: The Health of the Taupo Fishery – i.e. concern over the
deteriorating condition of trout from the discussion paper prepared by Richard

(Note: The meeting
format was informal, there was no fixed agenda, so the 10 x A4 pages of minutes
follow the discussion which rambled on back and forth a bit for over three
hours… the writer notes some contradictions but copied verbatim as

(Page 1)

John introduced his team and advised they had read the discussion paper by
Richard and were aware of anglers ongoing concerns.

Richard commented on the fact that trout were starving and had DoC
considered the introduction of farmed smelt. DoC Answer Yes.

Heather asked if excessive lake levels were affecting smelt spawning.  DoC
Answer – No.
Bob commented on whether climate change was affecting the timing of trout
spawning runs.  DoC Answer – No.

Glenn elaborated – from his paper prepared for publication in Target Taupo
in August – on timings of runs being later – 58% of 2007 season runs went
through the Waipa trap in October & November.  They are no longer running in
the traditional April-May-June-July periods.  Because of the later spawning the
trout in the lake are three months less mature – hence too small compared to 45
cm minimum.  Average only 1.8 pounds.  Historical average sizes show very little
changes until just recently.  Trout are not leaving the lake until late spring.  Confirmed last winter the trout were not in good condition – 12% of trout
through Waipa trap were under 45 cm.

The Waipa trap results were considered to be entirely representative of the
Tongariro River.
To answer the poor growth issue – Glenn explained one of the reasons is the
lake stratifies – all growth being in the nutrient rich top layer which mixes
throughout the year to bring all nutrients to the top for zoo plankton.  The
crux of the problem was that in 2005 this did not turn over.  Smelt had no food
and the population got hit.  Elsewhere healthy smelt normally spawn three times
a year but due to the lack of nutrients in Taupo they spawn only once.  The
productivity – or nutrients – of Lake Taupo is at the lowest limit for healthy
smelt spawning.

(Page 2)

Glenn compared it to a farm lacking fertiliser.  Overall teh lake is now
more nutrient rich than it was but the nutrient level is still poor compared to
other lakes.

Richard commented that previous years he returned any trout under 5 pound
but now they are 2 pound.
Glenn summarised that they – DoC – are cautiously optimistic on
the future.
Better fish have become apparent in the last three weeks.

The five main factors affecting size and condition were as: (I hope I
have interpreted this correctly?)

1 Smaller fish
last year was because they were younger.
2 Lake anglers
were catching & releasing more in late Autumn – most of which die

3 The few
achieving legal size are early runners – selective pressure of keeping only one
out of six to eight caught increases selection pressure.
4 Trout
protected in lake over winter results in late spawning runs.
5 Late runners
force more into the lake at the wrong time for recovery by feeding on

Glenn emphasised the lower the number of fish, the higher the vulnerability
of individual fish being caught.  So the proposed reduction to 40 cm is to
reduce the effects of five reasons above.  Other options are available such as
closing the river lower down, more flexibility in size limit.

John emphasised DoC are funded by licence revenues which need to be spent
on fishing – not the lake issues BUT they are acutely aware that what goes on in
the lake is the key to the fishery.  They are now working with Prof. Hamilton x
University of Waikato and other agencies in research on the lake but everything
in the lake re algae etc. was described as “patchy” – i.e. not consistent..


They concur the need for comprehensive research into the lake re biofish to
benefit everyone.

Heather asked is there anywhere on the DoC website to show what research is
being done?  Answer – No.  They (DoC) lack the resources to even put Target
Taupo on their web site.  DoC would welcome more funding for research but their
statutory imperative is to maximise the angling opportunities using funding from
sales of fishing licences.  John estimated that trout fishing adds $80 million
annually to the Taupo economy.  Fishing is the single most important item to the
local economy but funded by sales of licences without any council support.

Heather asked what research has been done on the food chain?  Michel
answered that is his special area – looking at other lakes in the world but
there are very few precedents because it is so complex.  He is collating all the
info on zoo plankton interactions to create simulations to see the results.  Michel advised last summer the lake was the clearest for the last 25 years – no
algae or zoo plankton (hence nothing for smelt to feed on).
Richard asked that if the fish are not growing as they should is there
anything they can do?  Answer – No – it is a one off situation.

(Page 4)

Richard asked if it is an on going problem is there anything DoC can do to
improve size or condition?  Answer by John – they suspect not.

Richard asked if there are any other types of smelt which may be suitable.  John repled there are no other species which would meet the conditions in Lake

Glenn commented there are now more nutrients in the lake than in the past
so if the smelt are doing badly there s something subtle going on.
Michel advised smelt used to be predictable but are now more patchy
following the patchy distribution of their food.

John commented any variation to the lake levels would not have any effects
on smelt breeding or on numbers.  The vast majority are in water less than half
a metre depth where they hatch in 9 days – usually along beaches and around
stream mouths.

Michel commented that given the shape of the shoreline the smelt spawning
could not be affected – the key ingredient of smelt numbers is not their
spawning but their food source (zoo plankton).

Richard asked if the injection of more smelt would help?  John replied they
will respond without help.

Richard asked if there was any evidence of reduction in koura numbers and
are catfish a problem?  Glenn explained they used three traps in Motuoapa,
Tokaanu and at Whakaipo Bay where they set traps next to raupo.  The trap
numbers have not changed.

(Page 5)

The catfish at the southern end of the lake are smaller.  They do not do as
well in the lake as they do in the Waikato RIver.  The numbers have been very
stable over the last 5-6 years.  The catfish numbers peaked at the same time as
top trout were caught in late 1990’s.  They keep to the shallows and do not
compete.  Michel commented that most trout still do not eat koura.  Over 90%
prefer smelt.  The orange flesh colour does not come from koura but from smelt –
depending on the type of plankton they have been eating.
Richard asked if there is not much we can do about size in another year
what can DoC do.  Glenn replied the 1995 eruption reduced trout numbers but size
increased.  DoC can manipulate the harvest.

Richard asked whether there are too many trout?  Glenn suggested that it
does not cause any concern – reducing the minimum size will increase the

The Waipa trap results in 2007 indicated the trout numbers were the third
lowest in the last ten years – since 1998.

(Page 6)


John advised licence sales had reduced from the peak of over 80,000 in
1990’s to 50,000, but the lower number of anglers were spending more time
fishing so the impact had not changed.  He reminded that 75% of the harvest is
from the lake – where smaller trout are caught than in the rivers, and 75% of
the angling effort is on the lake.

In discussion Michel confirmed DoC do not support catch and release.  He
gave example of pike in USA where slot limits failed when anglers stopped
fishing when they could not target the larger fish.

Bob asked what had happened to the smelt which used to cover the tail race
– where had they gone?  They explained that the zoo plankton from Lake Rotoaira
had changed and was no longer suitable for smelt.  Therefore the concentration
of smelt had gone from the tail race.

Lake Rotoaira ecology has changed – now has blue green algae which are
toxic and an indication of poor enrichment.  They compared Lake Rotoiti where
the algae is inconsistent and they do not know what will happen from year to

(Page 7)

Glenn advised most juvenile trout leaving the river do not make the
transition to feed on smelt that they need to to thrive.

He commented that jigging is harder and potentially catches more trout but
the majority of boat anglers still prefer deep trolling – which is the least
successful method.  He suggested it was a myth that jiggers caught better fish.  Deep trolling done properly is just as successful.  From a management
perspective, fly fishing is not a very effective way to catch trout.

Heather asked about the study of river flushes – variable flow trials – on
trout.  Glenn replied the study is ongoing.  Invertabrates distribution is

Bob asked what has happened to the rafts of green beetles.  Michel advised
their habitat – manuka – has been destroyed.

Michel commented on cicadas – not considered important on diet on Lake
Taupo but are t Lake Otamangakau.

(Page 8)

John commented that at Taupo the new land uses are not affecting the lake.  Farming is not any more intensive.  Nutriment levels are worse but not from run

Heather explained the use of the management filter that Advocates use to
monitor progress to identify what research info is available and whether DoC
research info is public information.  John replied that the nature of research
information would still takes the same time to analyse and publish in Target
Taupo three times each year.  Glenn’s article will appear next month.  There is
no room on the DoC website for an electronic version of TT.  John wanted to
dispell any impression that DoC are hiding any research information.  All info
is available on their website and is published in TT in a popular readable
format.  It takes time to check the technical information is accurate as it is
often reproduced in overseas publications.
John advised that DoC Head Office funding restrictions will not affect the
Taupo Fishery which is totally funded from licence revenues.  They can and do
bring in outside expertise and scientists – often on an informal or personal
basis – but are restricted by funds.  They confirmed there is a lack of good
research available beyond Taupo and therefore have had to build up their own
internal research capability.  Glenn reiterated NZ is small but DoC have regular
dialogue with outside agencies which have research gaps on Trout.

(Page 9)

Michel advised they were not keen on scientific modelling scenarios which
cannot provide for unexpected events.

Heather asked if there was any thought to forming an international
scientific committee.  John confirmed that discussion is happening all the time
and thee was a strong level of exchanging information.
Michel commented that at overseas conferences he was amazed to realise that
the Taupo Fishery management was so good.  Comparatively USA examples are poor
due to political interference.  DoC’s management at Taupo is at the level that
makes it attractive for overseas biologists and scientists to come here to study

Richard asked if there was any way to get back to traditional spawning
timings without intervention.  Glenn suggested they can by manipulating the
angling pressure – as they are doing.  John suggested it was difficult to
achieve changes as most anglers are visitors from beyond Taupo and the rules are
deliberately kept simple to improve their understanding.  TT will cover these

Richard suggested that DoC need to publicly advise of any programme to
address these issues.  If they do not then they need to advise what remedies are

(Page 10)
The headlines from Taupo Times re local politician’s headline comments were
briefly mentioned and dismissed as politics and not helping DoC’s public
relations at all.

Richard asked how the Advocates can help DoC?  John asked for more
cooperation and funding from Taupo District Council would help.  Environment
Waikato survey of ratepayers confirmed the importance of Lake Taupo in the local
economy but not funded at all by local or regional councils.

Glenn argued that DoC had all the information they needed on smelt and
would not necessarily change their direction but TDC and EW or central
Government should still assist.  It is getting beyond DoC’s trout management
role to have to do research on smelt and the food chain.  NIWA had captured most
of the funding form Government in the past.

Advocates could have a useful role to play in helping DoC to attract other
funding from Councils.
Glenn advised DoC are reviewing smelt monitoring to see what is working and
what is not and exploring other options.  The intent over the next few months is
to identify the steps – what to persue and what to not.  Then they hope to sit
down with Waikato University and other agencies but the size of their plan will
be based on available funding.

John advised DoC’s website monitoring report on the lake and their analysis
is all available.

Richard’s last question was did DoC know of any instances where trout
fisheries were similarly run down and had recovered again.  Michel answered No.  Ross asked what about the improvement using “R” type jacks at Lake Tarawera?  John advised the “R” type came from Tongariro Trout Centre.

Meeting ended about 1.30 pm

It was my intention to edit these minutes but feel that they are best left in the format as recorded.
I thank Ross for taking the minutes.
It is important to state that on Thursday 17.7.08 the Taupo Times front page story reported the deteriorating size and quality of Taupo trout with Turangi Tongariro Community Board Chairman and Taupo Mayor Rick Cooper speaking out on the decline in the fishery. That article will be available on our website shortly.

Eric Wilson



June 1 marks the official beginning of winter. We associate with winter, cold weather and we have that, a significant number of rainy days and maybe that is coming but autumn was very dry, windy days but the dominant pressure system leading to winter has been high. We also associate winter with the fishing season. It is early in the fishing season as the main season gets later each year and this year is no exception.

With the new season there will be a small increase in the season license fee


Fee incl GST


Fee incl GST


Adult Season




Adult Week




Adult 24 Hour




Child Season




Child 24 hour




As of 1 July the new license states fish may be taken if they are 40 cm or more in length. The limit remains at 3 fish.

Of greatest interest to us is the Integrated Catchment Management plan for which the goal was to complete the plan by the end of 2009. We believe that this will be achieved due to the goodwill shown by all stakeholders.

Issues are being worked through.
We prepared a submission on Lake levels and submitted it to both Taupo District Council and Environment Waikato. Due to an understanding that we would gain little through such an approach we have subsequently withdrawn our submission and with a letter of agreement from Mighty River Power have chosen to work with Mighty River Power to seek a solution to the problem of the lake level being held higher for periods longer than necessary. We believe that more can be achieved through co-operation. Our key interest is to see the delta “plug” cleared.

Didymo remains extremely high as a danger for our fishery. We urge that every river user, (angler, kayaker, hunter, tramper, rafter, swimmer, dog walkers and others) observe the Biosecurity message of check, clean, dry. This needs to be even when moving between rivers e.g the Tongariro and then the Tauranga Taupo. Lets not wreck it for future generations.
Environmental restoration continues. John Toogood is pursuing funding for the elimination of wilding pines. We are hopeful that new funding will allow us to continue this work. The planting of native vegetation is ready to continue and we are waiting on DoC to draw the plan for the next phase of this operation.
A replacement plaque will be put in place next to the weeping cherry near the flying fox.
State of the Fishery

Early season observations are that the fish are small and many are not in good condition.
John Gibbs has agreed to meet with the Advocates and we look forward to exchanging views with him and his team in mid July which is the best time for us to get committee members to the meeting.

Access matters remain. We have concerns to be developed.
Mangamawhitwhiti The protest group is standing firm and seem to be making an impact.
Publicity As always we are keen to increase our membership and are pleased to welcome new members. We have on this site the opportunity for you to register as a member.
John Ball is making a film on the Tongariro River and its history. A local, he has worked in the ski industry and has made a film on skiing our mountains. John has our full support for his project. John is seeking funding for the film. John would welcome any assistance in the making of this film.

Our June July newsletter is with the publisher and should be with our members shortly.
Eric Wilson
Advocates For The Tongariro River


What have we been doing during April 2008?

It’s that time of the year when local government have put their draft annual plans before the public requiring comment and ideas. We have attended the combined raodshow for Taupo District Council and Environment Waikato which sought input into Lakeshore Erosion and Flood Strategy and on Landscape and Natural Values plan changes.

Your committee has responded and made submissions as requested to both Taupo District Council and to Environment Waikato. I ask you to consider where to look with regard to Lakeshore erosion and flood strategy. A natural Feature, Lake Taupo is effectively dammed by the installation of control gates which have the ability to cause the lake to rise, then who or what causes lakeshore erosion and flooding? Would Lakeshore erosion and flood ing occur when the lake is low? I think not.
But it would if the lake was at a high level particularly when a heavy rainfall period occurred as was the case in 2004. Luckily, the lake is at a low level today as I write for we have had more than 75mm in the last 24 hours.

We accept the need for electricity and that electricity from water generation is a good thing. Surely there is a solution by which local government can ease the problems of Lakeshore erosion and flooding without it being a cost to the ratepayer. We have a solution which we want to be able to put to councils and we hope to do that through the hearings by both Taupo District Council and Environment Waikato. We believe that it would be to everyone’s advantage for Stuart Crosbie to have the opportunity to have his paper heard and even more that it be adopted.

With regard to the Landscape and Natural Values plan changes we are delighted that finally Taupo District Council have accepted the Tongariro River as an outstanding natural feature. The council can be forgiven the difficult task they have to reduce the features of the area to a few with so many outstanding features in their district. Initial plans did not include the Tongariro River but they have changed the designation and it is now included. It means that council has a responsibility to see the river maintained and protected in the future.

The committee has met with Genesis staff and have developed friendly and useful dialogue and a clear understanding of each other’s needs.

Our President is a member of the Central North Island Partnership group that seeks to have a response to Didymo. There is I think a belief that everyone is doing their bit to keep Didymo out of the North Island and out of the Taupo Basin. my observation is that people are only paying lip service. We think that Dave Cade working with money from BNZ but employed by DoC Fishery is doing a wonderful job. His pay is low and his hours are few but he sells an effective message. We congratulate you Dave for your wonderful effort. We would like to see more Dave Cade’s in our area to protect the Tongariro and all the rivers in the Taupo Fishery.

Fish and Game have put a paper together asking for opinion on the banning of felt soled waders in all but the Taupo Fishery, given that felt soled waders are regarded as a danger in moving Didymo between waterways. We fully support the position.of a ban.

John Toogood, a committee member, has been working hard for the restoration of the river margins to their natural state. This requires funds to eliminate the wilding pines and we seek help in funding to complete this task. We are grateful to WCEET The Waikato Ecological Enhancement Trust for their financial support and support in general in funding efforts on elimenation of wilding pines and of our planting programme. John has stuck determinedly to this task and we see signs of success.

Finally I would like to pay tribute to Dr Mark Cosgrove who was made the first Distinguished Member of the Advocates For The Tongariro River. The letter announcing this to Mark read:
“As the founding president, your vision generated direction and put the Advocates on the map, and the calibre of your thinking, leadership and aspirations for the Society were crucial in shaping a solid foundation.
It is in large part due to the profile you forged for the Advocates during your years as president, and the sheer hard work you put into getting that profile recognised and respected, that has earned credibility for the Society, and a seat at the table.”

Always we seek membership. I ask for your support of an organisation that is prepared to work to maintain a wonderful river that has value for all. Joining is as simple as going to our membership button and joining. We would love to have you as a member.
Eric Wilson


Annual Meeting.

The annual meeting saw the committee re elected. Heather Macdonald has agreed to a further year as President. Richard Kemp as Vice President. Eric Wilson as Secretary/Treasurer. Mark Cosgrove Immediate Past President. Committee:
Bob Appleton, Ross Baker, Robert Brace, Stuart Crosbie, Julian Proctor, Tuatea Smallman, John Toogood, John Wheeler.

Stuart Crosbie presented the strategic plan which forms the framework for this website and all that we do. His input has given us a very professional approach to issues. His presentation was well received and adds to our previous model.

Tongariro River Integrated Catchment Management Plan
The development of this plan is the primary reason why the Advocates exists. In mid March a further meeting of stakeholders was held and significant progress was achieved. It is great to see this community of stakeholders (Advocates For The Tongariro River, Ngati Tuwharetoa, Ngati Turangitukua, Genesis Energy, Department of Conservation [Turangi and Fisheries sections] Environment Waikato, Tongariro Turangi Community Board, Fishing Advisory Committee) working together with a sense of purpose to see the river protected by Tongariro River Integrated Catchment Management Plan achieved by the end of 2009. The Advocates, as always, making a positive contribution in the development of the plan and are providing the necessary leadership to move it forwards.

Alarmingly Didymo is in the Wairau river in Marlborough. It is a double worry that it is the nearest major river to Cook Strait , the last stand barrier before the North Island. More than ever we want strong measures to keep Didymo out of the North Island. Those strong measures, sadly, do not seem to be in place. Therefore it is so important for every angler and river or lake user to Check, Clean, Dry.
Committee members met with agents of the Te Whenua Trust to gain some understanding of this new development. At this time planning is at a very early stage and Taupo District Council have asked that they draw up a plan considering all options for the future development of Turangi before going further. We were able to voice concerns as they relate to the Mangamawhitwhiti stream, access, water quality and protection of the river.

Fish Quality
We have now received an acknowledgement of our submission on trout size and I will post this on our web site along with our submission. (See Issues, The Fishery) The quality of fish still remains a problem for anglers though there are some good fish  being caught. The shape of the fish have become torpedo like and they are smaller in size.

Feral Pines and Planting
River users will note the number of poisoned pines. This work will continue. We are heartened by the support received from DoC in this project and the knowledge that the prison is to come on board in support of this project. Environment Waikato gives its support and hopefully through the integrated catchment management plan will become an active participant.
The planting project,which was on hold due to the stopbank construction, is ready to resume and we wait for DoC to establish a planting plan for the area at the end of Taupahi Reserve.

The stopbank has been completed tastefully and will give residents protection up to a 1700 cusec flood. That assumes that the river bed does not aggrade.

Metal extraction of 50,000 cubic meters  is allowed to the end of April from the area of the braids below State Highway 1 bridge.

Lake Level
The Mighty River Power consent for operating Lake Taupo water levels can be reviewed if the consent giver, Environment Waikato,  so decides (before May 6 this year). The Advocates are keen to see a lower lake level than the present consents have in order to improve the health of the rivers which flow into the lake for, as the eminent hydrologist Professor Paul Williams told us, a 10 cm drop in the lake level would greatly improve the health of the lower Tongariro river.
Some residents on the other hand advocate that a lower lake level will reduce the shore line erosion of their properties and of  the many reserves around the lake.

However Lake Taupo is a vital hydro lake and any suggestions that that the level can be lowered (for ecological and environmental reasons) needs to ensure that there is no loss of generation capacity.

To this end Dr Stuart Crosbie, a professional mathematician,  thinks it would be possible to match dispirit needs of the hydro storage and erosion mitigation by a new regime based around a lower median lake level.

Taupo District Council and Environment Waikato have released stage 4 on Lakeshore erosion and from April 8 – April 12 will hold a 4 day roadshow to seek feedback on erosion and flooding around Lake Taupo. We will be represented at the Turangi event on April 9. We will ask If a lower lake level would result in healthier rivers flowing into Lake Taupo? A problem in all previous reports is that the effect of the lake level has not been considered for the lower Tongariro river. The current prolonged low lake level is seeing a stronger current in the delta region and the movement of sediment from the lower river. With a lower lake level, we believe that the most cost effective solution to the problems of sedimentation in the delta region can be achieved.

Rakeipoho Taiaroa, Secretary of the Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board, spoke to members of the Taupo Fishing Advisory Committee about  The Lake Taupo Agreement 2007. He assured those present that access under the 1926 Maori Land Amendment and Maori Land Claims Adjustment Act was guaranteed. This means that walking access from the Lake to the Whitikau pool on either bank is guaranteed to anyone who has a fishing license. There is no change in access.

Eric Wilson

The Annual Meeting and other matters
Dr Stuart Crosbie is our guest speaker at this year’s AGM to be held at the Bridge Lodge, Turangi on Easter Monday 24 March at 1.30pm. Stuart, a committee member, has focused and sharpened the Committee’s thinking on what we are about. This process is now on our website and can be followed from the Purpose button. We feel it is important that our members understand this process. Advocate members and the public are invited to attend.
We identify seven key issues. They are:

  1. Didymo. We can not relax our efforts to keep this invasive algae out of the North Island and out of the Taupo Fishery. Check, Clean Dry must be every anglers response in moving from one river to another. Easter is traditionally seen as the beginning of the river fishing season even though several anglers have found the summer season profitable and wonder why we think Easter the start of the season. It is so important that those who have fished elsewhere have applied Check Clean Dry. Where Didymo is established fishing has become more difficult. Julian Proctor reports that the Clutha is now becoming harder to fish and puts this down to fewer fish due to the loss of food in the river. He tells a dismal picture of a once great fishery in decline through Didymo.
  2. Mangamawhitwhiti. Recent publicity advises a huge 2,500 lot subdivision across the river from Turangi on the old Lands and Survey farm known as Mangamawhitiwhiti. Your committee will meet Sunday 16 March with the Te Whenua Trust to hear their proposal for this development. We know only what has been released to the media at this time. We do have environmental and access issues for consideration should this plan be presented to council.
  3. Fish Quality. Some really nice fish have been caught in the river over the summer but for most anglers the results have been disappointing. My last trip to the Delta saw 2 fish of good length caught but no condition. I could say they were recently returned from spawning but at this time of the year past experience would say fish in this area at this time should be in excellent condition. Sadly my experience has been the experience of many others. Peter Smith of Auckland in a letter to us dated March 10 wrote “At the end of 2006 I was surprised at the generally poor condition of the fish, but at the end of last year it was disastrous. One always catches a number of mending fish at this time of the year, but of the 24 fish I caught in December at the end of last year, barely half a dozen were worth considering being taken for smoking. The stomach contents were revealing: the odd green beetle, gravel, bits of koura— but no smelt. Where in previous years there were shoals of smelt at the Tokaanu wharf I barely saw half a dozen.” Fish quality remains a huge issue.
  4. Environmental issues of Feral Pines and planting project. Committee members will meet with DoC staff to continue the planting project put on hold  awaiting completion of the stopbank in late March. Feral pines are in the process of being eliminated and we seek further finance to continue this work. Funds are in hand to continue the planting project. An aim is restoration of the river margins to indigenous vegetation. Pull a pine seedling is the message for anglers and those walking the river margins.
  5. Lake Level. We have received notice in a joint letter from Environment Waikato and Taupo District Council that the 4th and final phase of the Lake Taupo Shoreline erosion report is now available. The Advocates have for some time argued that sediment problems in the lower river have been caused by the lake level being held at a higher level than would be observed naturally. We are aware that Environment Waikato from May 6, 2008,  may allow a review of the Mighty River Power consent which allows MRP to control the Lake Taupo lake level. We would like Environment Waikato to allow such a hearing and for the Advocates to be a part of this process.
  6. Access. Anglers will be heartened by the dramatic work in the lower river. A photo taken this morning is found in photo album river works. Work has been done by Ngati Turangitukua using  funding from the Ngati Tuwharetoa Genesis Energy Group. The Advocates applaud the work done.
  7. Publicity. Our President, Heather Macdonald is to be congratulated for the quality Annual Report which is available on line in Archives. Our Annual reports contain valuable appendices which will shortly be indexed to provide easy access.

Over all of this is the development of an Integrated Catchment Management Plan for the Tongariro River. All stakeholders are enthusiastic to see the plan developed in the next two years. This will establish clearly the river and catchment all stakeholders want and the responsibilities identified for all involved. An important meeting of stakeholders will occur this week at Hirangi Marae.

Eric Wilson


Advocates For


Filling the Photo Albums and bringing the website into line with our Strategic Plan

This website is being developed to reflect our strategic Plan. We hope that this will be achieved by Easter.

The Photo menu is developing reflecting our concerns for the river. February is traditionally a quiet time on the river but a lot is happening. We applaud the annual track maintenance which gives good access which has happened as usual at this time of the year. We are pleased that the track has been put through from the Jones Pool to the end of Graces Road.

Environment Waikato is near completing the stopbank on the left bank between the Major Jones swingbridge and the existing stopbank at Te Aho Road. The work has been achieved to the satisfaction of most adjacent landowners and will give protection against floods slightly larger than the 2004 flood. It is interesting to read in the key documentation Archives that this need was forseen in 1968. Given that the project was a government project it is harsh that it is a ratepayer responsibility to cover the cost. It would be good if the Minister of Conservation was able to apply the same grant and reasoning as is given the grant for Milford Sound. The Taupo fishery is an equally valuable tourist attraction with the Tongariro river as its centrepiece and is a significant earner of the tourist dollar. The photo menu river works shows a little of the work that has been done.

From the end of Graces Road 5.5kms of the 7 kms to the Delta have been cleared of willows. This has opened the right bank up for great fishing. Anglers have right of access along the bank only but I am sure many will want to try these waters at some time in the season and before the new planting of non spreading crack willow begins to show. Photos of what the bank looks like as of Feruary 2008 are found in the river works album.

Fish Quality is of great interest with DoC lowering the size of takeable fish to 40cm as from 1st July 2008 with the new season. I observed the weed harvester at work clearing the Tokaanu boat channel in the last week. A photo of the harvester and weed being transported for dumping further along the tailrace is in the Issues Album, Fish Quality. The key point here is that the weed being dumped is full of Koura (Freshwater crayfish). Koura are a recognised food source for approximately 5% of trout and those that do eat Koura, do very well. It is good to know that Koura are still plentiful. There are plenty of fish in the river at this time.

The effects of feral pine elimination is showing now. Photos are in the Issues album, Feral Pines. The key now is to encourage all anglers to pull out a pine seedling or two each time we go fishing. Such action can ensure ongoing control of Feral pines which are an unwanted weed along the river margins. Much is still to be done to deal to the larger trees.

February may be quiet for anglers but it has been a busy time on the river.

Eric Wilson


Advocates For The Tongariro River

10 February 2008

Our Brilliant summer but at a cost.

We were notified that the Tongariro River would return to natural
flows from 7th January due to the closure of the Poutu Canal so that
maintenance work could be done on the canal. The project was to carry
through to May.
The project had to be stopped due to the acute shortage of water for
electricity generation and the canal was reinstated with little work
completed on 1 February 2008.

The Genesis Hydrology site showed an unusual flow pattern during the
time the river was supposedly returned to normal flow. This was also
observed by anglers on the river and the matter was raised with the


Note from
meeting with Doug
Tucker, Operations
Manager, Renewable Energy, Genesis

at Tokaanu
Power Station, 11.00am, 7.2.08

Tongariro River at Turangi – Flow

click to enlarge

River Flow

The Genesis
Hydrology Chart showed
this unusual pattern during the period
when river users
were advised that the
river was returned to full flow. It is evident
that rather than full flow, the
flow was being manipulated through a
process called ramping. Ramping is
the raising or decreasing of the river

I sought
initially an explanation for this
regime from Jarrod Bowler and this
visited the Power Station and
discussed the matter with Doug Tucker.



1. The country is experiencing a very dry
period and with a high
demand for electricity coupled
with short supply, particularly in
, has lead to
electricity and the need for
the best utilisation
of water

2. Genesis is required to run the
Rangipo Station to produce
electricity. They agreed to run
only one turbine and notified
us of that.

3. The only water storage for the
scheme is
at the start of the
outage was 25%
full. Today
(8.2.08) the level is 9%..

4. The optimum level of production
from 1 turbine at Rangipo is
60MW and to achieve that water
is fed through the tunnel from
Moawhango toRangipo

5. There is insufficient water in
Moawhango for continuous
running at 60 MW for any
substantial length of time,
therefore the company reduces
generation to 30 MW overnight
which is approximately the
natural flow of the Tongariro.

This reduces the rate of level
recession at
When national demand for
electricity lessens then
Moawhango storage can
be increased,
generationat Rangipo.

6. The fluctuations of 130mm in the
are therefore
caused by national demand for
generation which has resulted in
the release of water from
Moawhango therefore altering the
flow through Turangi as
described by the graph.

7. Doug was unaware of any
concern being
raised by river
users as a result of ramping.
This ramping of flow both up
down was at a controlled
rate of 2.5cumecs per half hour.
The change from 30 MW
60 MW is an increase of 130mm
of stage height of the
at Turangi with a rate of
45 mm per hour, or 3 hours total
time for the change.

8. Doug was advised late yesterday
of a
query regarding concerns
to the fishery as a consequence
of this process but
had not been
given the details by 4.00pm
Friday 8.2.08.I advised that I
discuss the matter with
DoC fishery which I have done.


Meeting with
Glen McLean

DoC Office


1. Glen was aware
of the issue through many concerns to DoC fishery and had phoned Jarrod Bowler re. the problem.

2. Jarrod had
been away and not aware until yesterday of the operation. Ramping in this way
was a procedure Doc Fishery thought had been done away with from the 1990’s

3. Glen said
that the procedure was not good for the fishery but acknowledged the difficult position
Genesis is in.

4. Said that
he would organise a meeting to explain what had happened to interested anglers.

Eric Wilson


Advocates For