River access

 
Submission to Taupo District Council
Presented 27.8.07

Taupo District Plan 2050

Variations 19, 20 and 21

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to the submission made by us on Variations19-21 on TDC 2050.

Let me compliment you on the effort that goes into such a strategy exercise. My awareness of the strategy was through the notice to ratepayers that came with a rate demand at the beginning of this year. It stated that TD2050 establishes strong guidance for the nature and location of growth in the Taupo District and this guidance will now be reflected through variations 19-21.

Variation 19 applied new subdivision rules and a revision of the minimum lot size to the rural environment

Variation 20 proposes a strategic zoning for future areas of urban development

Variation 21 provides a policy framework for unfolding future growth areas in the Taupo District, while ensuring efficient infrastructure provision and specific assessments of environmental effects are undertaken through an appropriate structure planning and plan change process.

The Advocates for the Tongariro River speak for the river. Before we started it seemed to be no ones business to maintain a New Zealand taonga as there are a number of  stakeholders with responsibility for the river including the Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board as legal owners of the river bed, Environment Waikato for its management of the catchment, Taupo District Council and the Turangi Community Board whose decisions can impact upon the river, Genesis Energy through its HEP scheme, Mighty River Power who through control of the lake level impacts on the ability of the river to clear itself of sediment, The Conservation Department who manage river reserves and the fishery, and a number of recreational interests.

The Advocates’ mission is to raise the profile of the river to join the mountains and lake, leading to co-ordinated management, and the District Long Term plan is just such an opportunity.

I wish to make three points:

  • Extending the reserves beyond the normal 5% required by the TDC for new subdivisions, and providing broad  riparian strips to ensure the survival of the Walkways along the river banks.
  • Further HEP development.
  • Adjusting the lake level.

That the walkway on the true right bank of the Tongariro river from SH1 to the Red Hut swing bridge and beyond to the part of the river known as Boulder Reach is maintained for future generations.

Three areas around the Turangi have  been identified in this document for potential development. Of these areas, The Mangamawhitiwhiti block looks  attractive for development. With development of this block we want to see a deep reserve between the area of development and the river.

Erosion prone face

  • We see the river as an outstanding landscape area and we dispute the assertion (in the Appendices) that for the Mangamawhitwhiti Block  “No outstanding
    or amenity landscapes would be affected” and under the location of significant natural areas (only)  “A small area of significant natural vegetation is located within the potential growth area.” It also ignores the fact that the Mangamawhitwhiti Stream is known as a key spawning stream for the Brown Trout. A reserve would see the natural vegetation restored.
  • We want to be assured that the present walkway would remain for ever for people to enjoy. At greatest risk is the area between the Stag and Admiral’s Pools. There is no indigenous vegetation remaining between the river and the present block. Poor legislation in the drafting of the 1926 Maori Land Amendment and Maori Land Claims Adjustment legislation leaves it unclear as to the right to walk alongside the river in the lower reaches. The 1926 Act referred specifically to Maori land and not to European title. The task we see for you as a council is to ensure that in the future there is no conflict.
  • We want to be assured that there is no change to the water quality through run off or from development, land use practices.
  • We do not see the need for further bridges across the river and see the solution in road improvements for access from State Highway one for both the Mangamawhitwhiti and the Graces Road sites should they proceed.

On behalf of the Advocates I ask

That there be no further HEP development by water extraction on The Tongariro River and its tributaries

The TD2050 involves infrastructure provisions and HEP is infrastructure.Whether the original submission was for Variation 19 when it should have been 21 does not alter the fact that we do not wish to see further HEP development by water extraction on the Tongariro River nor its tributaries.

There are three reasons for this.

  • The present scheme reduces the flow of the river below the Poutu intake by 50% given that pre TPD days the flow was 56cumecs while today with no minimum flow through Turangi it is around the 23 cumec level which means that the river is struggling to clear the sediment it carries resulting in an aggrading river in its lower reaches. This leads to the second issue of
  • Sediment flow. The present regime is not working as is evidenced by the mess from sediment buildup in the delta region from the Main Road bridge to the lake.
  • The problem is made worse by the allowed high lake level which acts as water dam slowing the flow of the river into the lake and its ability to remove the sediment.
We don’t want to see further extraction of water from this river for any purpose.

That the level of Lake Taupo allowed by the current consent be challenged by Taupo District Council when the existing consent is  next reviewed.

For the reason stated above we urge that Council through its planning challenge at the consent review, the maintenance of the existing high level mark, which I understand is next year.

We believe that the same band of water could be granted for Electricity production purposes with a lower level and that the river flowing into the lake would be better able to clear itself.

25 June 2006

Walking Access Consultation Panel

PO Box 2526

Wellington

Outdoor Walking Access Submission

Our Background and Interests – Advocates for the Tongariro River

The Advocates for the Tongariro River is an incorporated society engaged in actively fostering the protection, enjoyment and promotion of the Tongariro River and its environment.  The Tongariro is a spectacular mountain stream with a wide range of fauna and flora and some well maintained walking tracks used by tourists and New Zealanders. More of the Tongariro River environment needs to be enjoyed by walkers, trampers and anglers but at present there are large areas which can currently be accessed only by rafters and kayakers, but which could be accessed by many more people if more tracks were made.

Our Response to Your Summary of Issues.

Proposed Aim.

We are in agreement and consider it to be a basic and widely accepted principle that all New Zealanders should be have free and unfettered right of access to all public land and fair and reasonable foot access along the coastline and significant rivers and around lakes.

We believe that access granted to anglers along the Tongariro River should be extended to the public.

Proposed Principles

We agree with all 5 points and think they are appropriate.

Key Issues

Information about Existing Access.

We agree with your first paragraph and think that the legal description, registered owner should be included in the database, preferably with a topo overlay.  Both web-based and printed copies should be available. We think signposting is necessary.

Unformed Legal Roads.

We agree entirely with your statement but the obvious difficulty is the number of District Councils who totally ignore their responsibilities under the Local Government Act.  The Advocates have been frustrated by both the Taupo District Council and the current Minister of Local Government failing to even acknowledge our concerns regarding the public being denied the use of two paper roads giving river and lake access.  The cost of litigation leaves the public with no one to turn to.

Rights of Landowners.

The rights of landowners obviously need to be respected and the options you give we support.  However we would like to see the Trespass Act amended so that innocent trespass without damage is not a criminal offence.

Restoring Lost Access.

The process of creating linking easements.

Establishing New Access.

We agree entirely and suggest also that the Walkways System be no longer the responsibility of the Department of Conservation. Along the Tongariro River, the Advocates would particularly like to see access made available over the Crown land administrated by the Department of Corrections.

Proposed Access Agency.

The purpose and function should be to represent the views of a cross section of interests, to monitor progress and ensure consistency.  To be well funded so as to be independent of Local Authorities and Department of Conservation and also to be able to maintain impetus.

Proposed code of responsible conduct.

We agree and think the code should apply to both private and public land.  Education might reduce the need for legal enforcement.

Health and Safety Issues and Fire Risk and Security.

We have no concerns.

Maori Land and Issues.

The public should be further educated about The Treaty of Waitangi in this regard and the public should expect that local Maori will be able to guide them  through sensitive issues.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

John Wheeler

Acting President