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Rotorua lakes delegation returns with high hopes

Tuesday 5 September 2006

Rotorua lakes delegation returns with high hopes

A high-powered delegation which travelled to Wellington to lobby the Government to become an official partner in the Rotorua lakes’ restoration effort has returned with high hopes.

The seven-person team met the Minister of Finance, Dr Michael Cullen, the Minister for the Environment, David Benson-Pope, and the Minister of Land and Information, David Parker, in the Beehive on Tuesday 29 August.

They presented the three ministers with a draft Memorandum of Understanding that would engage the Government in formal partnership with the Rotorua Lakes Protection and Restoration Action Programme.

“We consider this to be the way forward,” explains Rotorua Mayor, Kevin Winters. “The memorandum is a means of achieving meaningful engagement with the Government on cost sharing. We are asking for a formal engagement and active partnership. We are not seeking a blank cheque, rather a partnership based on adaptive management.”

Mr Winters believes the delegation portrayed its wishes to the three ministers in a “very forthright” manner. “And we received a positive response from them. They have agreed to develop the memorandum further with us.”

The delegation included all the main players in the Rotorua Lakes Protection and Restoration Action Programme. It included Mr Winters, Environment Bay of Plenty’s chairman John Cronin, and the Te Arawa Maori Trust Board chairman, Anaru Rangiheuea, supported by their chief executives. John Green also joined the delegation to represent the LakesWater Quality Society.

Environment Bay of Plenty chairman Mr Cronin, says the Government ministers appeared to be “highly receptive to joining with us to seek local solutions to the lakes’ problems, and to engage with us in the whole process of restoration. It was very constructive.”

Te Arawa chairman, Mr Rangiheuea, says the ministers seemed “genuinely interested” in the proposal for a Memorandum of Understanding. “We wanted to reinforce to them the historical and cultural significance of the lakes to Te Arawa and that the Te Arawa settlement monies will not be used to pay for this work. Our people made it very clear to us that the lakes were in a pristine state when the 1922 agreement was signed and they have an expectation that they will be returned in a similar state.”

ENDS

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