Kaikoura Star - Keeping our waterways - and camping areas - clean

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The last couple of weeks I have been attending the autumn shows in the electorate where the hot topic of discussion from the farming community is the Government's new freshwater management proposal.

This is a very important document for all New Zealanders but particularly for farmers, as one of the proposed measures is to increase fencing around waterways.

Here in Kaikoura, dairy farmers have been doing a fantastic job of keeping stock out of waterways for a number of years for the betterment of our freshwater.

The Government's proposal is to see all stock, deer and pigs fenced away from waterways.

Sheep and goats will not be included, as they do less damage to streams and rivers.

I must point out that this approach puts the priority on lowland intensive farming and recognises the impracticality for farmers fencing in some of New Zealand's steep backcountry.

Stock will only be required to be excluded from water bodies on flat land and lowlands and rolling hills on slopes of less than 15 degrees, unless overruled by the local council.

I would urge all farmers to take a close look at the proposed measures: It's very important that we get farmers' views so that the rules that come out of this are workable for them.

Submissions are being accepted until April 22: Visit www.mfe.govt.nz/consultation/ next-steps-fresh-water On a different topic, last month I travelled to Tekapo for the annual forum of the Bluegreens, the National Party's advisory group on environmental issues.

Held at the wonderful Mt John Homestead, the forum was a valuable chance to hear about and discuss some of the major environmental initiatives and challenges facing our country.

What tarnished the soughtafter natural beauty of Lake Tekapo was the presence of and more specifically the mess left by some of freedom campers.

The famous Church of the Good Shepherd doesn't have toilet facilities so some inconsiderate people are defecating in the bushes and dumping rubbish. To see this iconic, historic place being tarnished in this manner is a terrible shame and it is left up to the local council to manage the issue.

This of course is an issue that many parts of the country, including Kaikoura, have been grappling with for years.

The Kaikoura District Council has advertised a radius from the town centre where no campervans may stay overnight, but no bylaw is in place to police this. Council has discussed a freedom camping bylaw since the Freedom Camping Act was passed by the Government in 2008, and some feel it is long overdue.

The fact is, people come here from all over the world to see our pristine, unspoilt environment.

We are projecting a huge increase in tourists arriving in particular from China, who are drawn to this image of clean green New Zealand.

We can't allow the impact caused by an inconsiderate few to grow to a point that we lose what makes us unique.