Measuring 'mauri’

‘It will add new dimensions to freshwater management’: Palmer.

‘It will add new dimensions to freshwater management’: Palmer.

GOOD HEALTH: Wairoa River-focused projects have been granted $15,000 from the Eastland Group Wairoa Community Fund. File picture

FRESHWATER quality measurement dominated the final hearing on the proposed regional freshwater plan yesterday.

Addressing a section about water quality in the Waipaoa Catchment Plan, submitters discussed measuring the mauri or life-supporting capacity, the ecological effects on freshwater bugs, and the range water quality can move within (known as attribute band limits).

Submissions from Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust, Te Aitanga a Mahaki, and freshwater advocate Murray Palmer all requested that mauri be included in water quality measurements.

Te Aitanga a Mahaki representative Ray Farmer told the committee mauri was “the missing link between Maori and Western world views”.

Representative Ian Ruru said the mauri compass model, which he and Gisborne District Council staff developed, could be used to measure mauri.

The tool combines Maori and Western scientific views and looks at specific values of a waterway to a community and basic health indicators, such as the heath of eels.

“If the eels are healthy everything else must be in sync as they are the apex predator.”

Commissioner Peter Callander asked how widely accepted the compass was.

Mr Ruru said it was in trial at the moment with different communities and could be adjusted to suit different values and community needs.

Mana whenua paramount

In his individual submission, Murray Palmer told the panel that mauri was based on long-term observations of waterways and the mana whenua (ownership) view was “paramount”.

“We are in a new space. There is a wide body of knowledge around measuring mauri. It will add new dimensions to freshwater management.”

Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust representatives raised similar points in their submission.

They agreed with the council’s section 42a report on the submissions, which said water quality could vary year-to-year due to climatic and other natural factors, and supported a “reasoned approach” to measuring water quality.

However, measuring biological indicators, such as the health of freshwater bugs, and the wellbeing of mauri should be key components of freshwater monitoring.

Representative Te Rina Whaanga said while the mauri compass had a comprehensive set of values, they were working with the council on their own tool for measuring mauri for the Makauri aquifer recharge trial.

The Department of Conservation argued for ecological values — using biological indicators rather than nutrient levels — to be measured.

Nutrient levels don't tell full story

Freshwater ecology doctoral researcher Adam Canning said measuring nutrient levels only would not tell the full story of how healthy a waterway was. Instead they should measure the presence and health of freshwater bugs.

These tools contrasted with industry representatives for farming and horticulture, who argued for a water-testing method based on nutrient levels.

Horticulture New Zealand and LeaderBrand representatives made a case for measuring nutrient levels within attribute bands rather than set limits.

Consultant Nic Conland said water quality could naturally vary and they wanted any limits based on long-term projections.

Clear downtrends in water quality over a long period were not acceptable.

However, due to natural variabilities, movement up and down within a band should be allowed but not across bands.

Water quality in the Waipaoa catchment was good compared with the rest of the country, with all testing points within the highest “A” band, he said.

They only requested a slight increase in nutrient allowances to allow an increase in production.

Mangatu Blocks made a similar submission, arguing for bands rather than specific numerical values.

Commission chairman Mark Farnsworth noted the complexity of the topic at hand and the different methods of measuring water quality.

“It is a matter we are going to have to figure out.”

This week’s hearing is the last of four on the proposed regional freshwater plan.

Further submission points, including those from Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust and farming representatives, will follow.

FRESHWATER quality measurement dominated the final hearing on the proposed regional freshwater plan yesterday.

Addressing a section about water quality in the Waipaoa Catchment Plan, submitters discussed measuring the mauri or life-supporting capacity, the ecological effects on freshwater bugs, and the range water quality can move within (known as attribute band limits).

Submissions from Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust, Te Aitanga a Mahaki, and freshwater advocate Murray Palmer all requested that mauri be included in water quality measurements.

Te Aitanga a Mahaki representative Ray Farmer told the committee mauri was “the missing link between Maori and Western world views”.

Representative Ian Ruru said the mauri compass model, which he and Gisborne District Council staff developed, could be used to measure mauri.

The tool combines Maori and Western scientific views and looks at specific values of a waterway to a community and basic health indicators, such as the heath of eels.

“If the eels are healthy everything else must be in sync as they are the apex predator.”

Commissioner Peter Callander asked how widely accepted the compass was.

Mr Ruru said it was in trial at the moment with different communities and could be adjusted to suit different values and community needs.

Mana whenua paramount

In his individual submission, Murray Palmer told the panel that mauri was based on long-term observations of waterways and the mana whenua (ownership) view was “paramount”.

“We are in a new space. There is a wide body of knowledge around measuring mauri. It will add new dimensions to freshwater management.”

Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust representatives raised similar points in their submission.

They agreed with the council’s section 42a report on the submissions, which said water quality could vary year-to-year due to climatic and other natural factors, and supported a “reasoned approach” to measuring water quality.

However, measuring biological indicators, such as the health of freshwater bugs, and the wellbeing of mauri should be key components of freshwater monitoring.

Representative Te Rina Whaanga said while the mauri compass had a comprehensive set of values, they were working with the council on their own tool for measuring mauri for the Makauri aquifer recharge trial.

The Department of Conservation argued for ecological values — using biological indicators rather than nutrient levels — to be measured.

Nutrient levels don't tell full story

Freshwater ecology doctoral researcher Adam Canning said measuring nutrient levels only would not tell the full story of how healthy a waterway was. Instead they should measure the presence and health of freshwater bugs.

These tools contrasted with industry representatives for farming and horticulture, who argued for a water-testing method based on nutrient levels.

Horticulture New Zealand and LeaderBrand representatives made a case for measuring nutrient levels within attribute bands rather than set limits.

Consultant Nic Conland said water quality could naturally vary and they wanted any limits based on long-term projections.

Clear downtrends in water quality over a long period were not acceptable.

However, due to natural variabilities, movement up and down within a band should be allowed but not across bands.

Water quality in the Waipaoa catchment was good compared with the rest of the country, with all testing points within the highest “A” band, he said.

They only requested a slight increase in nutrient allowances to allow an increase in production.

Mangatu Blocks made a similar submission, arguing for bands rather than specific numerical values.

Commission chairman Mark Farnsworth noted the complexity of the topic at hand and the different methods of measuring water quality.

“It is a matter we are going to have to figure out.”

This week’s hearing is the last of four on the proposed regional freshwater plan.

Further submission points, including those from Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust and farming representatives, will follow.

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