Thursday Update 12/17

It has been another busy week dominated by the Tongariro River Trail construction.

On a national level there was an interview of Dr Jan Wright, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, by Chris Laidlaw on National radio last Sunday morning. It dealt with the recently released report titled Hydroelectricity or wild rivers, climate change versus natural heritage.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment

The Parliamentary Commissioner For the Environment is Dr Jan Wright. On the National Programme she was interviewed by Chris Laidlaw. At 40 minutes it is a long session but well worth listening to. You can listen to the interview by clicking here.

Earlier she had released a report titled Hydroelectricity or wild rivers, climate change versus natural heritage. I have put this report on our front page Updates.

I have been reading old newspaper cuttings from early 1960 dealing with the proposal to build the Tongariro Power Development.  Tom Shand, then Minister of Energy, pushing its construction and opposition from people such as Peter McIntyre. There were strong views from each side. It was a different period in our history and the Government could force through legislation which would be difficult today.

The Tongariro River can no longer be called a wild river. It was once. It remains a significant river within a largely beautiful catchment.

Dr Jan Wright’s report is balanced and well worth reading.

On the website she writes:

Commissioner’s comment

We tend to think of fraught environmental issues as environment versus economy. But sometimes the conflict is environment versus environment. Building a hydroelectric scheme on a wild and scenic river is one.

Hydroelectricity is good for the environment because it is a way of generating electricity without emitting the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Wild and scenic rivers are good for the environment too – they are a precious part of our environmental heritage, and New Zealanders love their rivers.

I began to think about this conflict when letters started coming into the office about the proposed hydroelectric dam on the Mokihinui River on the West Coast of the South Island. It seemed to me that there were strong arguments both ways and that this is a genuine dilemma.

As this report was going to the printers the developer, Meridian Energy, announced that the scheme was not going ahead. This report is not an evaluation of the merits of the now defunct Mokihinui proposal, although this case is used to illustrate some of the flaws in the system. Rather, the report is about the system of legislation, institutions, and processes under which choices are made between hydroelectricity and the protection of wild and scenic rivers.

Fishing Report

Wednesday – perfect fishing conditions. The river was running slightly higher due to 18mm of overnight rain but was clean. It was overcast (to block any opportunity to observe the Transit of Venus). It was calm with a hint of further rain, which didn’t happen. Nor did the fish bite. I saw some 20 anglers and I didn’t see a fish hooked nor carried away from the river. I did hear that a couple fishing the Log pool did well. Ten years ago, this was the peak of the season and now we are still waiting for the main runs to start. They can’t be far away now.

There were fish being caught earlier in the year and there were good fish amongst them.  Fish caught lately do not give the same optimism of a significant improvement in the fishery. We still have concerns about the food chain in Lake Taupo and its impact on Rainbow trout.

The Tongariro River Trail

The building of the boardwalks starts tomorrow. Material has been prefabricated and the construction should be relatively quick. DoC have finished track building for the financial year and we have taken the opportunity to employ three local track builders to do the track finishing work.

River Works

I observed that work has started in removing silt from the river channel as advised last week. Silt will be transferred from the river side to the area prepared at the Crescent Reserve.


Eric Wilson