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Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Wild water curbs river wade

By Emily Norman
[email protected]
‘Swimmable River’ supporters were unable to even wade in the Ruamahanga yesterday at the launch of the Green Party’s latest water quality campaign.
But on this occasion water quality wasn’t the issue.
Swelling river volume and strong currents made the political stunt “too dangerous”.
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei and Green MP Catherine Delahunty had planned to “wade” into the Ruamahanga River at The Cliffs near Carterton yesterday to raise awareness of river quality, and were supposed to be joined in the river by Kuranui students to protest the Government’s “ridiculous” water policies.
They opted to protest at the bank of the river instead.
Wairarapa police even checked into the river yesterday to make sure no one would be putting themselves in danger by attempting to enter the water.
Ms Turei said while the launch had not gone to plan, she was still “really pleased to be here” at the river her whanau had lived by, swam in, and eaten from their whole lives.
“The government says the suitable standards for our rivers is that they can be waded in,” she said.
“That’s totally unacceptable.
“This country has been built on clean water and healthy soils.
“We want to make sure that we have a swimmable standard for New Zealand’s rivers and so we are touring around the country to rivers that are important to us to talk to communities about the swimmable standard and the things they’re doing to help clean up the rivers.”
The Ruamahanga River at the Cliffs was chosen by the party after it was given a “D grade” by Greater Wellington Regional Council earlier this year, making it one of the worst spots in the region to swim.
However, Federated Farmers Wairarapa Provincial President Jamie Falloon said in terms of water quality the Ruamahanga was in “a bloody good state at the moment”.
“The wider context is that the Greater Wellington swimming report showed that out of 289 measurements in the last summer there was only one failure in the Wairarapa for bacteria,” he said.
“To go around and say that the river is degrading and you can’t swim in it is just manipulating the statistics and public opinion to try to get more support.
“It really annoys me that they do that.”
He said The Cliffs was graded D which meant caution, not ‘unswimmable’.
“It’s got the Masterton sewerage plant upstream and even though it hasn’t failed any bacteria levels in the past three years, it’s still graded D caution and will always be graded D until Masterton sewerage plant is moved upstream a bit.”
Carterton Mayor John Booth said he swims at the spot every summer and had not heard of anyone getting sick, but is still supportive of improving water quality – “who isn’t?”
Mr Booth talked with the Green Party MPs at the launch and said they were positive about the good work that Wairarapa farmers were doing to help improve water quality.
“At the end of the day, we’re all part of this community and we all care, and you know, we all want the next several generations to have good quality water.”

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