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Taharua and MohakaTaharua me Mōhaka

The Regional Council is developing a more integrated resource management framework for the Mohaka catchment. This includes addressing the effects of intensive land use in the Taharua headwater catchment to restore the health of the upper Mohaka and Taharua rivers.

Taharua and Mohaka Catchment

"Mountains to sea" freshwater management

The Regional Council is developing a more integrated resource management framework for the Mohaka catchment. A plan change to the Regional Resource Management Plan, to be developed with catchment stakeholders, will focus on water-related issues including riparian health, and water quality, flows and allocations. Managing impacts and risks to water from the land will be essential. This includes addressing the effects of intensive land use in the Taharua headwater catchment to restore the health of the upper Mohaka and Taharua rivers.

Mohaka catchment overview

The Mohaka River and its extensive tributary system, including the Taharua, Ripia, Waipunga, Hautapu and Te Hoe rivers are of high ecological, cultural, recreational and scenic significance. Outstanding values and characteristics of its upper and mid reaches are recognised by a Water Conservation Order. Over 60% of the catchment remains in native vegetation. Importantly, it is the quality of the whole river system, as well as parts, that is regionally, nationally and, in some respects, internationally valued.

Maintaining and, where necessary, enhancing the water quality of the Mohaka is a high priority not just to tangata whenua, river-related businesses, resident communities and recreational users, but the public who value its existence (even those who don't often visit). At the same time the Mohaka is a working catchment where farming and forestry are important both to the economy and individual livelihoods. In supporting such economic activity it's important it does not undermine the catchment's natural character, which in itself contributes to the region's profile.

Taharua - action in partnership

In the Taharua headwater catchment local landowners and key organisations in the Taharua Stakeholder Group are working with the Regional Council to address water quality degradation in the Taharua and upper Mohaka rivers from intensive land use in the catchment. Water quality targets and a time-bound Taharua policy and rule framework will be a key component of the Mohaka catchment plan change. In addition, landowners are working constructively with the Regional Council to develop and implement nutrient management improvements. This will form the basis of a landowner action plan.

Taharua Stakeholder Group

The Taharua Stakeholder Group is a working group of key stakeholders, who are partnering with Council to develop lasting solutions to water quality issues. The Group supports an approach that will support all the 'sustainability dimensions' (environment, people and business) and will continue to be effective if land ownership and land use change.

Group representatives are:

  • All Taharua landowners
  • Hawke's Bay Regional Council
  • Fish and Game
  • Fonterra
  • Dairy NZ
  • Federated Farmers
  • Ngati Pahauwera
  • Ngati Hineuru
  • Ngati Tuwharetoa
  • Mana Ahuriri Incorporated
  • Department of Conservation
  • Taupo District Council

A whole of Mohaka approach

In early 2012 the Council agreed to extend the scope of the Taharua plain change to the whole Mohaka catchment. This plan change will focus on water-related issues, including water quality, flows/allocations and riparian health. Managing impacts and risks to water from the land will be essential.

The catchment-wide approach to managing water and land aligns with the Hawke's Bay Land and Water Management Strategy and public responses to a Taharua and Upper Mohaka Draft Strategy in 2011.

Anticipated benefits include:

  • Public confidence this outstanding river system is being managed in an integrated manner;
  • Proactive management of potential land use pressures, not just existing issues;
  • Implementation of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management;
  • Safeguarding of Water Conservation Order outstanding characteristics and features; and
  • A more effective and efficient single plan change process.

The rationale is outlined more fully in this February 2012 Committee Report (Item 8).

The Mohaka catchment plan change will not (and cannot) address all catchment issues. As a regulatory tool, defined and limited by the Resource Management Act, it should be viewed as one of a potential suite of interventions that can, over time, contribute to more integrated catchment management. There are benefits in deferring plan provisions for biodiversity until multi-agency preparation of a Regional Biodiversity Strategy is completed.

The Mohaka plan change will be part of the Regional Council’s broader response to implementing the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management alongside other catchment-based plan changes to be developed according to an agreed programme.

Next Steps - Exploring Options for Taharua-Mohaka

Council will be developing a draft Mohaka plan change in collaboration with Mohaka stakeholders and with input from the public. A Mohaka Stakeholder Group (MSG) will be formed as the main working party to work with Council. The existing Taharua Stakeholder Group can be expanded to and from the MSG (possibly with a Taharua sub-group if neccessary).

We are considering an ‘Exploring Choices’ approach to look at some future management options for the Mohaka catchment. A ‘Choices’ consultation document could be prepared with the MSG in the first half of 2014. The management scenarios would be informed by transparent assessment of their environmental, social, cultural and economic consequences (based on current knowledge) and an understanding of resources. Both the MSG and the Hawke’s Bay public would have opportunity to comment on the choices or to suggest others.

After public feedback on the ‘Choices’ phase, it is anticipated that the MSG could recommend to Council a preferred management approach based on the MSG’s own analysis and public feedback received. The preferred approach would form basis for drafting of a regional plan change for the Mohaka River catchment. Public notification (i.e. release) of a proposed plan change is targeted for end of 2014.

General Staff Contacts

For more information on specific aspects of the Taharua and Mohaka project, please contact:

  Gavin Ide +64 6 835 2952
Land Management      
  Brendan Powell  +64 6 833 8056
Land Barry Lynch  +64 6 833 5643
Water Quality  Andy Hicks  +64 6 833 8094
Hydrology  Rob Waldron  +64 6 833 8020
Groundwater  Dougall Gordon  +64 6 835 9217

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