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Deep well of support for iconic lakes

About 60 per cent of those who made submissions to Masterton District Council’s Long-Term Plan [LTP] want the council to invest in maintaining two iconic man-made lakes instead of reducing them to wetlands.

More than 700 people shared their preferences on the future of Henley Lake and Queen Elizabeth Park’s Lake of Remembrance in the council’s recent LTP consultation, with about 36 per cent wanting the council to “explore a different look and feel in the future if it would cost less”.

About four per cent said they didn’t know what they preferred.

It is not known how much it would cost to maintain the lakes in their current condition.

Both lakes are filled with water diverted from rivers, but tighter conditions on resource consents from Greater Wellington Regional Council to take water mean that during periods of low river flow, water will not be able to be used for this purpose.

“In a dry summer, this could mean these lakes dry up, perhaps completely,” the council said.

“To maintain the lakes as they are now, we would either need to invest a significant amount of money to take water from an alternative source, or we could change the look and feel of these locations over time.

“For example, one or both could be converted to a wetland which would not require as much water.”

The council signalled it would be exploring options for the future of the lakes over the next three years.

It used the recent LTP consultation process to seek feedback from the community to inform future decisions.

Among submitters in favour of maintaining the lakes were Queen Elizabeth Park Boats, which uses the Lake of Remembrance, and the Wairarapa Dragon Boat Club, which uses Henley Lake.

Queen Elizabeth Park Boats urged Masterton District Council not to turn the Lake of Remembrance into a wetland and said the lake is an integral part of the park and has been a venue for boating activities for 120 years.

Their submission said if the lake was cleaned out, deepened, and relined with clay, there would not be the leakage currently experienced, and it would therefore retain the water “at an operating level” over dry summers.

“This would set the lake up to be maintained for another 20 years.”

Masterton’s Queen Elizabeth Park is one of only four venues in New Zealand with pedal boats and the only one in the North Island.

Queen Elizabeth Park Boats said their experience is a drawcard for local, regional, and international visitors, with more than 10,000 people using them each year.

Meanwhile, the Wairarapa Dragon Boat Club, which uses Henley Lake, also opposed reducing the lake to wetlands.

In its submission, it said there is no alternative lake to use in Wairarapa.

“The lake is a community asset set up by people with a vision,” club founder Lindy Daniell said in the submission.

“The lake is an important community resource that needs to be nurtured and protected for current and future recreational use.”

Henley Lake is also used for Waka Ama, model boats, and public use with kayaks and canoes.

Masterton District Council will analyse the feedback on the lakes and report this back to the council at a future date.

-NZLDR

LDR is local body
journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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