Advocate 18/11

Outside it is raining heavily. A check of the Genesis web site shows that in Turangi we have had 20mm of rainfall over the last 24 hours and the river flow reached 37 cumecs. It is still raining and cold. Winter is holding onto its position as chief season as spring intrudes with nice warm days for short spells.

I spent today at the first of a 3 day hearing into an application to develop the site on the other side of the road from the Z station with a BP station, Black Bean cafe and a Quick Service Restaurant (as yet not known other than it will be an international brand). The hearing process is interesting but only the commissioners may ask questions and there is an urge to comment when wrong information is being presented. It gives a good understanding of the consenting process.

 Lake Level Study

The front page of the Taupo Times of Friday August 24 has the leader heading Turbulent debate over lower lake level. 

The Advocates have long had an interest in the operating Lake Taupo Levels. Our argument has traditionally been that since the control gates on Lake Taupo were installed the lake level has been held higher than nature intended. To this end our then President Dr Stuart Crosbie prepared a paper, Fine Tuning the Resource Consent Conditions for Lake Taupo Control Levels. A report presented by the Advocates for the Tongariro River to Mighty River Power in November 2008 which was published in our annual report of 2008. Mighty River Power, now Mercury Energy, gave us the courtesy of a full day to make a case arguing that the lake could be operated at a lower maximum level than the consent allowed. Mighty River Power met with us again for a full day to explain why they were satisfied with their operating regime and would make no change to their operating system,

Our concern was that there was a significant sediment build up at the mouth of the Tongariro River and we believed the cause was the high lake level was operating as a barrier causing deposition at the mouth. Others around the lake were encouraging us to push the argument as they witnessed shore erosion in a number of locations around the lake such as at Kuratau and Tauranga Taupo. We presented that concern at the resource hearing that year but the commissioners decided that Mighty River Power was complying with their consent condition. 

This  year we have had the opportunity to ask for a change to the consent conditions but as it was highly unlikely that this would happen  we have not been involved.

In last years Annual Report we reported te findings of Professor Paul Williams who has shown in the Tail piece of  his book New Zealand Landscape, Behind the Scene, Pages 441 to 450 that many of the problems we saw resulting from Hydro Electric Power development involving Genesis Energy and Mighty River Power are in fact due to subsidence of the lake bed at the Southern end of Lake Taupo. This we have accepted.

Thus my interest in the Taupo Times article reads “Associate Professor Earl Bardsley, from the Faculty of Science and Engineering, has challenged the status quo when it comes to the management of Lake Taupo.” Dependent upon funding from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment” an overseas student “will carry out a 3 year PhD study on the possibility of reducing the consented lake level operating range.”

From our experience I wish the study well.

Meeting with Allan Kirk and James Linehan WRC staff. 16th August,

Back on the 16th August we met with Allan Kirk and James Linehan of WRC re the Annual Works programme. I have reported in an earlier blog this year on the intended programme dependent on WRC gaining the require landowner consents. Our discussion was positive and agreement reached with regard to our desires in the river work. 

James in an email to me stated

Hi Eric,

Thank you for collating and sharing the concerns of the advocates. Points made around enhancing angler access and opportunity have been expressed by a number of angling groups. Concerns over instream debris fit within our general river management mandate and removal reduces the risk of erosion and flood potential.

Given that permissions are granted, it is practicable safe to perform and can be done within consent conditions (eg sediment loss standards) the sites outline will be worked into the programme.

To address the concern about works focus areas…

Gravel Management works are focused below the bridge as this is the most prominent gravel aggradation zone. Gravel moves through the system in pulses during freshes and is deposited here because there is a  proportionately significant gradient drop. Survey shows that the bed level in this reach has risen to a point that the freeboard of the schemes assets have dropped below a set “immediate gravel extraction” trigger level. Levels set upstream are not at this warning level. The levels are set to ensure the scheme holds a design flood event. Outside of the scheme up river, inspections have indicated gravel island and pointbar growth, but not to al level that is of risk to life and property in Turangi.

To help address Vegetation driven gravel stabilisation and build up (which is restricting natural pulses during freshes) out side of the scheme we are in talks with DoC to begin a joint vegetation management programme

Within the scheme we have outlined significant areas to maintain vegetation over the coming works seasons to ensure scheme capacity as well as increase recreational access and value.

From here we will continue our consultation with land and bed owners to be granted permissions to perform works this summer. When permissions, plans and timings are finalised we will be in contact to inform and distribute this summer’s programme (likely November). Works can formally start in November and must be finished by May, any instream works are likely to be planned for late summer when angling, nesting and  flows are at their lowest.

Thanks again,



I haven’t fished for a while but there is evidence that the fish runs have started. There have certainly been more fish caught. Up and down the river in the shallow gravels are redds which are ignored by many as they enter the pools to fish but are a sign that there has been significant movement of trout. Certainly more trout are being caught and with the persistent spates trout are encouraged to run.


Much of the areas planted have been invaded by convolvulus. It is defined as “a creeping and climbing weed sometimes referred to as bindweed…The roots are deep and have rhizomes.” It is difficult to destroy. We have referred the matter to Dave Lumley, DOC Turangi Manager, and have said that we will pay for the work to be done within our budgeted figure. This has been agreed to.

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Eric Wilson