Collaborative journey towards restoring mauri of bay continues

EDITORIAL

One of the most obscure district council committees ended a successful three years last week and is on the cusp of having set the scene for a major environmental improvement.

The wastewater management committee, a combination of district councillors and iwi representatives supported by technical experts, is nearing the end of a wetlands trial that could save the district millions.

If the trial is successful, and so far the results of the plant-based filtering system have been promising, it will avoid the need to utilise the more expensive option of a clarifier system.

The committee and the wastewater technical advisory group (WTAG) are working to a tight deadline. The council must apply for a renewal of its resource consents that allowed for the continued use of the pipeline into the bay. A recommendation from WTAG is due in November.

The wastewater committee will play only a watching role now as its three-year term finished with last Thursday’s meeting. One member, Roger Haisman, is not seeking re-election, chairman Bill Burdett faces a challenge in the Waiapu Ward, as of course do the city ward members Amber Dunn and Larry Foster.

While it is not a high-profile committee, this group has faced some testing technical issues.

The background to its success lies in the relationship between the four council members and four tangata whenua representatives. They have continued a pathway set five years ago with the agreement that took the issue out of the Environment Court.

There is still a way to go and some contentious issues remain, such as the inclusion of mortuary waste in the wastewater stream.

Maori have also made it plain at all times the bottom line for them is that land-based treatment is the only option that would fully protect their kapata kai, hauora and mana. That was reinforced in the Kiwa Group’s presentation of a mauri compass that would set the guidelines for measuring water quality throughout the district.

The journey towards restoring the bay to the condition of pre-European days still has far to go.

One of the most obscure district council committees ended a successful three years last week and is on the cusp of having set the scene for a major environmental improvement.

The wastewater management committee, a combination of district councillors and iwi representatives supported by technical experts, is nearing the end of a wetlands trial that could save the district millions.

If the trial is successful, and so far the results of the plant-based filtering system have been promising, it will avoid the need to utilise the more expensive option of a clarifier system.

The committee and the wastewater technical advisory group (WTAG) are working to a tight deadline. The council must apply for a renewal of its resource consents that allowed for the continued use of the pipeline into the bay. A recommendation from WTAG is due in November.

The wastewater committee will play only a watching role now as its three-year term finished with last Thursday’s meeting. One member, Roger Haisman, is not seeking re-election, chairman Bill Burdett faces a challenge in the Waiapu Ward, as of course do the city ward members Amber Dunn and Larry Foster.

While it is not a high-profile committee, this group has faced some testing technical issues.

The background to its success lies in the relationship between the four council members and four tangata whenua representatives. They have continued a pathway set five years ago with the agreement that took the issue out of the Environment Court.

There is still a way to go and some contentious issues remain, such as the inclusion of mortuary waste in the wastewater stream.

Maori have also made it plain at all times the bottom line for them is that land-based treatment is the only option that would fully protect their kapata kai, hauora and mana. That was reinforced in the Kiwa Group’s presentation of a mauri compass that would set the guidelines for measuring water quality throughout the district.

The journey towards restoring the bay to the condition of pre-European days still has far to go.

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