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Enjoy the pansies while you can

Masterton District Council’s colourful plantings look set to become a thing of the past. PHOTO/PAM GRAHAM

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Enjoy the flowers on the traffic islands at the north end of Masterton while you can because it’s the last year they will be there.

Masterton District Council is braced for a public backlash but feels it can’t “save the pansies” because it needs to show leadership on the issue of conserving water now that a total ban on watering gardens is possible during summer.

Infrastructure services committee chairman Gary Caffell on Wednesday urged councillors to front up on the issue, saying contractors planting the traffic islands already took a lot of flak from people with opinions about the plants.

Caffell said people loved the flowerbeds because they were so colourful, so it was going to be quite a change.

New water take consents from Greater Wellington Council will force a ban on watering of gardens in Masterton if the flow of the Waingawa River goes below 1100 litres per second.

The committee heard there was a 10-day period last December when such a ban would have happened under this policy.

The year before was a wet summer so there were no days it would have applied.

The bedding plants on the northern traffic islands drink 3000 litres of water each watering in summer, with one or two waterings a week.

Shrubs and grasses will be planted this autumn.

Acting chief executive David Hopman said while there was an estimate of 20 days during summer when the watering ban would occur, it would not be 20 days in one go.

“How it will impact, depends on the rainfall,” he said.

But gardeners, and the people who supply them, are already up in arms.

Paul Foster from Lansdowne Nursery said the total ban was ludicrous.

“We provide an income to 12 families at our nursery and if people aren’t going to plant well . . .”

He said vegetable gardens could not survive without regular watering.

“We supply Wellington region as well and when they have water bans down there, our sales drop accordingly. So, it does have an effect,” Foster said.

He said as the clean river movement pushed for bigger flows in rivers, others were missing out.

“We are 130 years old. Why should we change because some clowns make a stupid decision? The whole thing is a nonsense.”

He pointed out the council had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on promoting Wairarapa to bring people to the region.

“We have huge subdivisions going on and now they are telling us there is no bloody water,” he said.

Vicki Waller of the Masterton garden club agreed councils needed to look at their own watering.

“It’s hard to restrict your own watering when you see the council gardens being watered in daylight hours with much going on to the road,” she said.

The region needed a better water storage system and councils needed to enforce rain water tanks of some size for all new buildings for use on gardens and other systems.

“We need to look at ways to help people reuse household water – especially washing machine and bath/shower,” she said.


  1. Is the MDC on a campaign? Given recent statements by the Acting CEO it seems it is. Some of these statements are over the top and don’t inform on the underpinning issues of water quality. Perhaps this requires more foresight and thinking that reaches beyond the back pocket

  2. Oh for gods sake . Masterton is not in the middle of the sahara desert . This annual display of colourful flowers is the very essence of a Masterton summer as are the trees in new leaf . Just like many of the long gone old colonial and deco buildings . The flowers have to go . Simple answer . Manage the watering better . Just like home gardeners do in the same position . If they can’t do that , then use a water truck from a source of water not monitored . This is not a problem that can’t be solved . Rather a majority of councillors unprepared to save part of Mastertons pretty heritage by putting it in the to hard basket .

  3. All houses should have a rain water storage tank and also one to store washing machine water. Water in the latter to water trees and plants but not vegetable plants.

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