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Rotorua lakes effort praised by Commissioner

Monday 3 April 2006

Rotorua lakes effort praised by Commissioner Report

A Parliamentary Commissioner report that strongly praises the “superb” effort being made to restore the Rotorua Lakes has been welcomed by the agencies coordinating and overviewing the work.

Rotorua District Council, Environment Bay of Plenty, and Te Arawa Maori Trust Board formed the Rotorua Lakes Joint Strategy Committee in 2000 and two years later released a long-term strategy for the lakes of the Rotorua district. A cornerstone of the strategy was the need to protect and restore water quality.

Rotorua mayor Kevin Winters, who chairs the group, says the report, by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, recognises the “absolutely massive effort and considerable resources” being invested in the project.

“It’s great to have out hard work acknowledged. We realise we’ve taken on a huge task but we’re dedicated to it – and we’re there for the long haul,” Mr Winters says.

The report, titled Restoring the Rotorua Lakes – the ultimate endurance challenge, was publicly released by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr J Morgan Williams, today (Monday 3 April). In the report, Mr Williams acknowledges the “Herculean” task and the “excellent progress” being made in the Rotorua Lakes Protection and Restoration Action Programme.

He congratulates the agencies and the Rotorua community on their commitment and effort.

The report points out that maintaining and improving the health of the Rotorua Lakes will require ongoing commitment over decades rather than years. With an extensive range of projects started over the last two to three years, the challenge now is to keep the programme going, it says.

It recommends that, in order to build on the excellent progress made so far, the Joint Strategy Committee should consider strengthening its “institutional framework”. It could do this by expanding membership to include representatives drawn from the wider community.

Mr Winters says the committee will consider this recommendation at a future meeting. However, he points out that community representatives are strongly involved in developing Action Plans for the different lakes.

The commissioner also recommends developing a sustainability report card on progress to help maintain community commitment over the long term. As a result, Environment Bay of Plenty will investigate expanding its annual reporting from lake quality reports to reporting on the overall programme.

ENDS

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