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Members appointed for new river advisory group

The goal of better flood mitigation and management of Greytown’s Waiōhine River is one step closer, with members for a new advisory body having been appointed.

The Waiōhine River Plan Advisory Committee will oversee the implementation and operation of the plan released in its draft form in 2021 by the Greater Wellington Regional Council [GWRC].

The members [who are listed below] were appointed by the council at a meeting on September 21 and announced last week.

The formation of the committee comes after a Waiōhine River floodplain management plan was discontinued by the council in 2016 due to negative public feedback, and a community elected group led a revised plan that was signed off last year.

Wairarapa representative and GWRC deputy chair Adrienne Staples said the criteria for selecting the committee members required a mix of landowners, interested groups, mana whenua, and people with varying knowledge and expertise.

“There’s a lot of people very interested in it and who want it to be in good order and looked after by the community, so we’ve tried to have as many representatives from groups involved. For some of those groups, people belong to more than one,” Staples said.

“We thought it was a pretty rigorous process and would stand up to scrutiny. We could easily argue why individuals were appointed.

“Not to say that anyone who wasn’t appointed couldn’t have done the job, but that it was about getting a good spread and a variety of skills across the group.”

Noting that a public election of the group would have been a “huge expense”, Staples said this selection process was cost- and time-effective.

“You’re better off spending the money doing something on the river.”

However, local resident Chris Engel has misgivings about how the selection was made and would have preferred that some sort of public contribution was involved in the decision.

“When you’ve got a personal thing at stake, you’re very interested,” Engel said.

“It makes a massive difference when you have skin in the game.”

Engel said he is concerned the group is becoming further removed from people directly affected and that he hopes some of the landowners appointed are those directly bordering the river.

The advisory committee will primarily oversee flood management and look after the banks of the river.

Staples said the next steps for the committee will include looking at the work programme ahead and making recommendations to the council regarding future plans.

The committee’s local authority representatives are Adrienne Staple [Greater Wellington Regional Council] and Robyn Cherry-Campbell [Carterton District Council], with a South Wairarapa District Council representative to be confirmed at a future meeting.

Its mana whenua representatives are Sam Ludden [Kahungunu ki Wairarapa] and Amber Craig [Rangitāne o Wairarapa].

The urban ratepayer representatives are Camlo Carter-Ritchie, Russell Hight, and Stephen Dunstan, while the rural landowner reps are Mike Ashby, Michael Hewison, Murray McKee, Stephen Meyrick, Mike Roera, and Bruce Slater.

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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