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Developing a new way of working for Waikare and Whangamarino

Progress on a new catchment management plan for north Waikato’s Lake Waikare and the Whangamarino wetland is being made with the development of a significant landowner group wanting to have input into the process.

Waikato Regional Council, which is co-ordinating the plan’s development, has decided to postpone till November a community open day on the plan so the group has a chance to further develop the way it will operate. The open day had been due next month.

“A significant group of local landowners has signalled they want to be actively engaged in the plan’s development,” said integrated catchment management director Clare Crickett.

“We’re postponing the open day so we can advance discussions with their representatives first before looking to have an open day for the wider public.”

Ms Crickett said the group is offering a collective approach to providing landowner and farmer input into the way forward.

“The landowner group has asked for some time to get themselves organized and offer their representation to the farming community in the catchment before any open day is held. They hope this will help them take a partnership approach with landowners, iwi and the community at an open day.”

The council’s integrated catchment management committee chair North Stu Husband supports a postponement. “There are a lot of good things going on in the catchment and I don’t think we have a complete grasp on that at the moment. We’ve got technical information but what I want is a more complete picture of how we, landowner and iwi representatives - as well as the Department of Conservation and Fish & Game - are going to work together for catchment health outcomes before we hold a public forum.”

Local constituency councillor Jennie Hayman agreed important issues are at stake for the lake and wetland, and that postponement made sense. “People are really concerned about Lake Waikare and the Whangamarino, so they want to know what we know about these special environments, the constraints and challenges, and how we can realistically address these. It is important to be inclusive, and to this end, postponing will allow a more comprehensive presentation, bringing many groups together.”

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