New collaborative initiative to restore Waikato River
“The size and location of the Waikato River means it has significance for not just the surrounding region, but for the rest of New Zealand. The Waikato River Restoration Forum brings together landowners, industry, iwi, and local and central government to develop a five- to 15-year strategy for its restoration and ongoing well-being,” Dr Smith says.
The Forum is chaired by the Waikato River Authority, an independent Crown-iwi organisation, and its members include DairyNZ, Fonterra, Genesis Energy, Mighty River Power, Waikato River iwi and the Waikato Regional Council, as well as other territorial authorities.
“There are a number of organisations that are currently involved in activities to restore the Waikato River, but there is scope for these efforts to be better coordinated and integrated. The establishment of the new collaborative forum will address the risks of duplication and inefficiencies,” Dr Smith says.
“The first priority for this new body will be to produce a strategy to help guide investment decisions for improving the health of the Waikato River, and to guide the Forum’s members to ensure the most logical and effective approach is adopted to restoration activities. This will ensure the maximum benefits are gained.”
The three strategy partners, DairyNZ, the Waikato Regional Council and the Waikato River Authority, have also made funding commitments towards the initiative. The Authority and DairyNZ are contributing $200,000 each in direct costs while the regional council is due to put in $75,000, subject to councillor approval. Other costs will be met by significant in-kind support, such as staff time, from DairyNZ and the council.
“I commend the work of all those involved in this new initiative, which builds on the Government’s vision for the effective management of our freshwater,” Dr Smith says.