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Email us your story about freshwater in New Zealand. Remember to include a title and picture for your story.
I live beside the beautiful but tempestuous and whimsical Mokihinui River. We fought hard to regain her from the clutches of greedy Meridian Energy, which aimed to destroy her spirit with a 110m high wall just 300m upstream of the large and active Glasgow Fault.
68,000ha of our river is within the conservation estate and is largely pristine. A spin-off from the hydro proposal was a bike trail spanning the catchment, and a terrible mess the trail blazers created, blasting right through previously untouched landscapes and forests, destabilizing rock wall in dangerous places, and destroying lovely forest on the river side of the trail with blasting debris. What is this mentality that no river can be left untouched in New Zealand, but must, at any cost (in this case $6.5m) have roads driven through and along? Surely a tramping track is the best option for such treasured places. The Wangapeka Track, internationally touted at one time, is now languishing, which is the future for this bike trail also.
It is only the closest approximate 9,000ha to the sea of the Mokihinui catchment that is in private ownership, but the rate of natural cover removal shockingly vies that of the Amazon, especially the intensive dairying farm in the Seddonville Valley. All its dairy effluent went into the river until about 2006, and made our iconic waterhole dangerous to swim in. Holding ponds were then created, via our protests to the local council, but those ponds soon overflowed and the river became unswimmable again. Recently, the farmer was told to upgrade the effluent treatment, and this year after swimming, my hair is clean enough to get a brush through, where previously it needed a wash after swimming. Although there are still fields of especially filamentous algae, the eutrophication has noticeably decreased.
Unfortunately, our not so long ago sparkling clean estuary, a once lovely and popular swim, is now slime-ridden and filthy. Holding ponds at the dairy farm there overflow directly into the estuary. Lab tests show that the outflow is toxic but the local council says the colour of the outflow and the slime of the estuary is natural,and they refuse to see the scum either. Meanwhile the farmer keeps the outflow open with a weed-seed encrusted digger which propagates and proliferates mountainous sandy ridges of broom and gorse in our wild and mainly natural estuary; an estuary which still supports mistletoe on coprosma, and good populations of indigenous and migratory birds, but for how much longer in a region that can't seem to get enough development at any cost? The Mokihinui is a very important river for birds and we just cannot afford its degradation.
Recreational fish species numbers such as schnapper have plummeted; as for long-finned eel and whitebait populations and habitat - disaster!
The really good news for this river and its catchment is that much of it should be annexed to the Kahurangi National Park shortly.
This is the aftermath or grazing next to hawea river, one of my favorite swimming spots now a mud bank and full of crap :(
Have been going to this part of the river for awhile now to go water skiing. Me and my partner absolutely love waterskiing and its the closest place to go that's near by. The water is so brown that you can barely see your hands 10cm below the water. It's so disgusting I can't believe they have let the water stay this way. You can even see where the water begins to go brown at Taupiri where a small river leads into the Waikato. Wish the government would do something about it.
Last weekend we went out to Dartmore river where we used to play as kids any my father used to swim. When we arrived we first was an eel in the water, moving gently with the stream. I don't much like swimming with eels so tried to scare it away with rocks, but it did not move. Turns out it had expired, so we flicked it into the deep water to float away. We swum and enjoyed out day but the next day we all had the runs for 12 hours. Except the two who didn't swim. Not cool at all!
I am Carla Woollaston and these are my sons in 2005. What is a Kiwi upbringing if there is no exploring and learning. I have a grandbaby now and I dont even know where there is safe water to show her some of these wonders of our beautiful world.
In my old job, I took kids to check out the life of their local stream or river. Where we could, the kids would get into the water and get up close to check out a bug or a fish that lived there. They would get such a kick out of being at the stream, splashing around. I loved seeing how happy it made them and I worry about the future of our freshwater. This is one of the streams we would go to, Manutewhau Stream. When a group of students were down at this stream one day I asked them to come up with some descriptions of their stream. The words they used were 'ancient' 'breath-taking' and 'unique'. I haven't forgotten because I was so moved by their words. It is beautiful here but not always safe. Some of the local kids swim here in summer and sometimes get sick. I see that we have already made so many of our waterways so polluted. They are treated like drains. I want to see our rivers valued as rivers. I want to see our lakes valued as lakes. And all the richness that this means; life, well-being and joy. - Marnie
Lorna Sygrove _Having lived in the area since 1952 we have observed the growing sea lettuce problem over the years. We had a healthy population of the Parore fish species in the harbour until the the 1970's. These fish primarily feed on sea lettuce and are not a target species as they are not considered a good eating fish. We observed illegal night time pair trawling for Snapper in the channels and reported it to the authorities. Nothing was done for many years and as the Parore were a discarded by-catch, their numbers fell drastically. I believe that this decimation of the Parore coupled with intensive coastline orcharding in more recent times (with subsequent nutrient run-off) has been responsible for the huge growth of this nuisance seaweed. A breeding programme to return the Parore population to it's former size would go some way towards rectifying the situation.
I took my family down for a bike ride along the Great Taste Trail in Nelson today and, as it was a ripper summers day, we stopped to have a dip in the Wairoa River. _I cannot tell you how upset and disappointed I was to find the river in such a disastrous state. Green slime permeated every part of the river and was filthy from top to bottom. I have never seen it so bad. Certainly not like when I was a kid. _I'm not an ardent activist. I support farming and NZ trade. But this has to stop. If not for us then for our kids. Whoever is responsible needs to step up and do the right thing.
My friends and I grew up next to the Oroua River which feeds into the Manawatu River. I remember playing in the river on summer days, floating down on tractor tyre tubes, fishing and skipping stones. Then all of a sudden our parents told us we weren't allowed to play in the river any more, that it was polluted and the water would make us sick. Factories and wastewater plants were discharging directly into the river - that's 20 years ago. The pressures on the rivers may have changed but the Oroua and the Manawatu now make headlines around the world for how polluted they are. Fish and wildlife are gone, algae's taken their place and contact with the water comes with the risk of pathogen infection. We're told that water quality is "stable", just don't swim, eat fish, or come into contact with the water. The river could be so much more than a waste drain - a central identity for the Manawatu, it's people and wildlife. Instead, we can only look at it from a safe distance. I feel that my river has be stolen, my kids will have no interaction with it, and it has been left to rot with no protection. Freshwater is part of New Zealands' and Kiwis' identity. Please protect our rivers. - Paul
Spent New Years day at my favorite swimming hole near Wanaka on the Motatapu River. Luckily the local farmers respect the swimmers wishes and have installed fences and do theor best to keep any cows from entering the river which im sooo happy for!
I have just had a heart breaking evening.
My husbad and I bought our first home three months ago, our little slice of paradise, and we were very pleased to be the new guardians of ~70m of stream (some would call it a ditch). Although the previous owners were rather fond of Glyphosate, and the stream wasn't protected from stock, were were thrilled to discover it full of young Kokapu and Eels.
This morning the stream was fine, clear running as it usually is. At midday I noticed it was full of sediment, and when we went to check this evening- well, see the photos. We have rescued 5 Kokapu and 2 decent sized eels which will spend the night recovering in the kitchen sink and bath respectively, until I can find a new home for them- I'm not keen to return them to the stream until we know what has caused it.
13 dead Eels, 2 dead Kokapu, goodness know how many fish we didnt spot, or are in the rest of the stream.
I will be calling the regional council first thing tomorrow. Hopefully someone cares.
Here is a poem I wrote, for the Manawatu River:
What I am looking for and what you are looking for are not the same thing. Everyone has a personal definition of treasure. What's precious is a choice.
There are many threats to the mudlark. Broken glass. Water thick with nutrients. Trudge the murk. Sift and pile. Lurking waterwards, the wet suck and the lack of a dog to throw a stick for.
Beside this river, I make a vessel for my bloodline. It cradles us. Him, and hymn, and him. Lurking in the glooming of the gloaming, before the moody brooding hills.
This is a time where every garden is a victory garden. Gauzy old world, broke up and leaking - but trust the barren times. Trust what happens underground while up here we drum our fingers and sigh.
Open Heart. Heart murmur. Murmuration of swifts. Swallows. The birds talk to the river and the river mirrors. Me and my late, me and my great-great, all of our efforts combined amount to not much. The measure of how broken things are is how weary it makes us. Close your eyes. Sink.
Riverbank, my playground: tall grasses, fennel, cow parsley. gorse, Queen Anne's Lace, lupins, Old Man's Beard. The choking willows. The shitting cows. The cowering stoats. The river rats. Starlings, magpies, ducks. I want to un-name these things, then rename them. Reclaim them. Stop, bank.
Eddying, widening, deepening, forging. The energy of river says GO. The river's intent. It is a Main Drain, this westward, flow! The historic abandoned meanders of the Manawatu Open Heart River.
'The Manawatu River is reluctant to stick to one course.' River mind. Engineers work to eliminate risk. Tears rivulet cheeks. River face. Revealing. River doesn't want answers. River wants questions
To fight for something, first know that thing. Know it hard. Know the depth of it, the swim of it. Take it all the way in.
You can't panhandle the truth. Way-seeking mind and the river's meander. All our ailments are just failures. Failed nerves, failure of gut, heart failure: Manawatu. Mend, and make do. – By Helen Lehndorf
Whitianga Beach, Coromandel. Saturday 20 Feburary, 2016.
Whitianga is usually prestine, with beautiful clear water. My family and I come here every month and enjoy the beautiful bay for all it offers. After a couple of rainy days during the week we turned up here to find the ocean water looking like this. All of the local rivers and waterholes were looking very similar this weekend. Obviously all the runoff from the local dairy farms had been flushed through the rivers all the way to the ocean. It was very upsetting to see this and realise this must happen regularly.
I wish there was a way to stop this from happening. – Jamie Kent
I have fished and taken photos of birds along the Manawatu for many years, several years ago I became concerned re the dumping of bitumin ,liquid tar and other material inside of the stopbank in areas that I have seen flooded ,my thoughts are that this material will end up in the river.So, as well as the birds, I have a photographic record of what has occured . The company that manages this land is high profile in Palmy and this is perhaps why no-one I contacted wanted to respond. I would be happy to talk with the Choose Clean Water people.
My friends and I float down the Waiwhakaiho river in Taranaki every new years day on random inflatables. It has becoming a bit of a traditionew, and a great way to stay cool on a hot day. This year, the day after our annual float, there was an article in the local newspaper about the high levels of E.coli making the Waiwhakaiho river unsuitable for swimming.
I felt betrayed and pissed off that my friends and I were exposed to such a risk.
Was surprised recently when landowners along the Wairau River (Wairoa District) were upset about siltation caused by a dam malfunction. Same landowners have no fencing along lengthy sections of this river. In some places there isn't even any fencing between the river & road which is handy for trout fishermen who aren't having any luck in the nearby Waikareteheke River which is very clean. General lack of fenced rivers in this region is appalling.
Just back from a week in Cromwell and swam freely in Lake Dunstan. It was stunning, the water clarity is just superb and it reminds me what all our waterways USED to be like. Blue, fresh, clean - people fishing. No dairying in this region.
Another regular boating destination for us is Lake Brunner on the West Coast. Some of my friends have a house there and returned yesterday. They both commented to me separately that after being on the lake they smelled funny.... and wetsuits and togs smelled like pee.... we have all been going there for many years and this is the first time we've really seen a change, why? Could it be the intensive dairy in the area?
On another note that somebody might be able to give me some advice on... my house is just to the west of Rangiora on the Canterbury plains. We rely on a bore to supply the 6 houses on our lane. The bore has been there for years and last year we were forced to double its depth as water levels were low, well this year and just before Christmas the flow has reduced so badly that we all have to take turns in drawing water. With so much water being drawn out above us on the plains, I fear soon there will be nothing left for the towns/cities and people who live on the lower plains and near the coast. I'm really worried. IMAGE - Lake Dunstan, Central Otago. beautiful. Wish all our waterways could be like this again.
My son loves to play in the stream at my fathers place (Otiaka Valley). He make dams and looks for spiders and interesting rocks. We don't let him swim in it though, there are lots of neighbouring dairy farms and not much lives in the creek anymore. I think it must be better upstream somewhere because we found a crayfish skeleton the other day. It's been years since we saw a crayfish in the stream – but we still look. – Shaun
I live in the South Wairarapa and we have the Tauanui River running through our property. A couple of years ago the river had enough water for us to swim in and was pristine enough to support all sorts of native fish life. At the beginning of this year our river dried up for the first time in living memory. We spent 3 weeks moving hundreds of stranded fish (eels, bullies, koura, inanga and torrentfish) upstream in chilly bins. This year it looks like it is going to happen again, only now we seem to have some sort of out-of-control algae growth to contend with as well. Why is this happening? Admittedly we are in the midst of a drought, but this low flow in our rivers is exacerbated by extraction - ie. irrigation from nearby groundwater takes that is draining our surface water. Regional Council (charged with ensuring our natural resources are properly managed) have granted these takes without monitoring either the condition or level of this river - which is an absolute travesty! This is a picture of my little boy rescuing fish from a pool that is drying up. I hope and pray that New Zealanders care enough to think that this is important.
I used to love swimming in the river as a kid and now it is polluted. How can we fix this? One day I saw a farmer dumping all his rubbish in the river. Such a shame. Lets make a CHANGE.
The summer is challenging us with very hot weather at the moment and we were urging to find a nice spot to refresh ourselves! My friend suggested to drive to Horseshoe Bend, a place in the Tokomaru River he went to when he was a child. Excited we packed our towels and drove down there. The disappointment was huge when we saw what this place has turned into - a dark brown looking, turbid and sad body of water. My friend couldn't believe it as he remembered the swimming spot to be crystal clear! We did not feel like jumping into that brown soup and left with a big disappointment :/ Too sad! – Karin
I lived at the lovely fishing huts on Rangitata river mouth where the river ebbed and flowed according to rain and how much water was taken off for the irrigation of large dairy farms. We had to boil the water due to contamination by run off from the farms, and it had a saline taste due to the water table being contaminated through excess use from the farms.
Large pumps sprayed watered manure back over the land which further added to contamination.
Sadly the beauty of such a place, the lives of the salmon and trout there, and even the humans looking for a simple life, were all affected by the few farmers trying to get richer through the violating of our rivers and land around them.
The removal of trees for pasture also added to the decline of the land there as it does most places.
It would be lovely to have our country valued for its beauty again instead of the business and money markets it provides for the few.
The Ashley River is one of my favourite rivers, I have kayaked it at low flows to minor floods, when the water is crystal clear or dirty and full of floating debris, on hot summer days, in the rain or when the snow's of mid winter are on the ground, I have bounced off it's rocks and swum down it's rapids. It is a great place and will hopefully always be a place of excitement & adventure or peace & quiet contemplation, so close to Christchurch but worlds away.
My name is Chris Bell, I'm a resident in the Rangitikei district. I love this area and its under-regarded wildlife, including magnificent pockets of lowland bush and gorgeous rivers like the Rangitikei and Turakina. But our rivers are polluted, you can't swim in them and the eels and native fish have gone. I visited local MP Ian McKelvie today and discovered that he strongly agrees that we should raise the bar of river quality and is very supportive of improving the health of our waterways!
As a child I used to take for granted that I could swim in lakes and rivers and drink from mountain streams and rivers with safety. It saddens me that we may have been the last generation to be able to do this.
My husband and I are kayakers, and we don't drink freely from rivers any longer, we hear stories of parts of rivers known to give people rashes, we listen to news of algal blooms. Our water ways are no longer the benign refreshing places of beauty and recreation they once were, they are now places to be cautiously aware of the potential health hazards.
Walter & I grew up in Kawerau and with tons of other kids use to swim in the Tarawera River (above Tasman Pulp & Paper Mill) all through summer. The more dangerous thing then, was the rapids and eddies but it helped us learn to become capable swimmers. When we moved to Whakatane we chose a house by the Whakatane River so that our kids could experience the same. We had many enjoyable hours teaching our kids to swim and play in the water. Last week one of my 22 year old kids, said while walking along the river, "I don't think I'll let my kids swim in the river now - too much pollution and stuff in it."
Its a sad day when what gave our generation and the kids generation so much great family and friend time, is not likely to be repeated because of the condition of our waterways.
Come on everyone - lets reach the 10,000 votes so a real discussion can be had re the quality of our fresh water ways and that they can be properly and honestly assessed. Move "wadeable back to swimmable" in the very least!
Lesley Immink, Tourism Export Council & Whakatane resident
On Banks Peninsula we have a whole catchment protected ki uta ki tai - from summit to sea. It starts in our family land at about 500m's and runs down through two valleys that have Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust and QEII covenants.
We are proud to say we have protected this waterway and believe it may be one of the first in New Zealand to be fully protected in a working landscape. The land around it is farmed with a mixture of beef and dairy support. Within the covenants gorse is used as a nursery plant and there are many special species found here; Akaroa daisy (endemic) and snow tussock down to cooks scurvy grass and yellow-eyed and little blue penguins at sea level.
We love what we have done, it makes the place we live incredibly special. We are now working to protect the rest of our waterways on our farm through a mixture of covenants and stream fencing. It doesn't have to be the environment or farming. It can be both.
When the heat goes on at our favourite beach holiday spot, Whangamata, the intrepid head up to a best kept secret (until now), Parakiwai Valley for a swim in the stream; the swimming hole with jumping wall is a natural wonder.
This stream has a fully forested upper catchment and a rocky bottom with native fresh water bullies darting around in the clear, super cool water.
It makes me think about how our streams would have been before the influences of humans began to occur.
– Kate Loman-Smith
Here on our dairyfarm in Okaihau, Northland . Our Daughter got married in the bush she grew up exploring and enjoying. We have three beautiful waterfalls on our farm which feed the Puketotara River which leads down to the historic Keri Keri basin and Bay of Islands. We are proud all waterways and Bush on our farm are 100% fenced off from stock. We have joined up with neighbouring farms and formed The Puketotara Community pest control Grouperadicating pests and weeds to improve the population of the North Island Brown Kiwi which naturally live on our farms. In 2014 we were The supreme winners Of The Ballance Farm Environment Awards for Northland. We feel we can farm sustainably, productively, profitably while having also having minimal impact on the environment.
As a child, in the 1960's, we regularly went swimming at Lake Karapiro. We would meet up with friends and neighbours for picnics. The local schools always held their annual picnics there too. We had the obligatory running, three-legged, sack and egg-and-spoon races... but the highlight was always the swim. I was my ambition to be able to swim well enough to swim out to The Rock. Sadly, the weed grew, there were a couple of drownings and the Lake was deemed unfit for swimming. The Rock has since been blown up, because it was in the way of the rowing lanes.
I have been taking school boys tramping for the Duke of Edinburgh Award for some years now. One of the tramps that we use to do regularly was into the Kaweka Ranges, in the Hawkwe's Bay. There is a hut on this tramp, that is often used by hunters and trampers alike. The tramp runs along the Mohaka river, which is also often used for white-water rafting, swimming and tubing, and was once one of the cleanest rivers in the Bay. Last year I took a group of boys up there for a tramp and it had been two or three years since I had returned. I was devastated to find that the river was brown with algae and covered with foam along many of its stretches, so much so, that nobody would swim in it. We used to be able to drink from this river with little worry of contamination. Now, with combined intensified forestry and sheep and beef farming, this river is quickly becoming a source of pollution. The worst part about this is the timeline, which was less than two or three years to destroy such beautiful and essential resource of our region and nation.
Julian Lumbreras, high school teacher.
The most important petition for a long time! My story is this shit as steam that goes down the back of birch ave and drains into the river. Its just a waste stream from farms, industrial buildings, and roads. Clean this up NZ and ever other shitty waterway we have destroyed.
We live on a sheep and crop farm at Willowby (5 minutes south of Ashburton) and have seen all of our drains and natural springs, including our house well completely dry up within the last 10-15 years. We went from having fish and fresh water crays in our waterways to not even having a drop left for sheep to drink. Over the last couple of years we (and most of our neighbours) have had to spend $20,000+ each to deepen our bores from approx 8 meters to 40+ meters just to get drinking water. On top of that, the water we have now tastes terrible and we are having to put filters in to take out nitrates and bacteria at an additional cost of $2000. I have lived here for over 50 years and have seen the change in farming from sheep and crop to intensive dairy and the change in irrigation practices. We farm on heavy soils (this area was originally swamp land) and have no irrigation, we have been through some major droughts over the years, without any total failures, but nothing compares to what we are trying to cope with now. Most local rivers are either dry or unswimmable which makes them unsuitable for our children to enjoy, which again is taking away one of our basic rights in life. Unfortunately, it appears everyone is driven by greed and no one seems prepared to admit we have a major problem and to do anything about it. Photo included was taken of one of our drains in 2012. Years ago water would have been a lot higher, now this drain is totally dry.
As a child, my parents took us kids to our local rivers. I loved going to these places, swimming and exploring. Back then, we didn't consider that they would be unsafe to swim in, it was a given that we would always be able to swim in our rivers. As a young adult, I enjoyed kayaking down rivers. These fresh water spots have always played a big part in my life.
Barely a decade later, many of our rivers have become unsafe to swim in, covered in algae and filled with sediment. I'm devastated to see what has happened in just my lifetime. My nephews and nieces also love going to our local rivers, but they won't put their heads under.
In my short lifetime, minimum standards have gone from swimmable to wadeable; within their lifetime, they could all become toxic drains. Swimming in our rivers should not be idealistic.
This is not the future I want for them or for their kids. – Kyleisha.
I grew up beside Lake Waikare in the North Waikato and have used the lake for recreating, swimming, water skiing, yachting and duck shooting every year of my life. The lake is now so polluted I would not let my dog swim in it...
Also for various reasons waterfowl have largely disappeared as where there used to be 100000's in the refuge inay there are now only a couple of birds these days. This and the other North Waikato lakes are polluted and stuffed..
An environmental disaster being ignored by the powers that be.
Above our Native Harmony Forest in the Upper Waitati Valley, along Swampy Ridge I believe the Dunedin City Council has sprayed Tordon annually for decades to stop the bush regenerating to stop tussock from again becoming the forest that was cleared in the 1860s. It is believed to be more manageable than forest. I believe that they think the Tordon and the water that enters the public water supply from up there is not significant. The DCC is however a private corporation under the privately incorporated NZ Government owned by those who appear to think that chlorine is not significantly carcinogenic, fluoride, sourced from smelters, actually hardens teeth and the people and the environment are to be used for profit. I object to the terms and conditions in that "non-commercial" use is not possible, as we, with birth certification, are all commercially owned by privately incorporated councils owned by private governments owned by .... How about "non-corporate"? Meaning only those with living human bodies can care for and speak for the environment. James David Baillie, All as One, Sovereign-self. PS: I suggest you make say the photo is required. Rather than have people complete this section and then be asked for a photo they may not have!!!