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Partnerships key to restoring Waikato lakes

7 June 2006

Partnerships key to restoring Waikato lakes

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Ms Mahuta was in Te Kauwhata, north of Huntly addressing the Shallow Lakes Conference focusing on strategies for restoring the mauri of local lakes and waterways.

"Freshwater is vital to the health, wellbeing, livelihood and culture of Maaori and all New Zealanders. It defines our landscape, sustains valuable ecosystems, and is used and enjoyed in many different ways. It is vital for native wildlife and wetlands and native fish species," Ms Mahuta said.

"This water also flows into and sustains some of the most ecologically significant lakes and wetlands in the world, found right here in the Waikato. These include the Whangamarino and Kopuatai reserves, and the Firth of Thames. The peat lakes of the Hamilton basin are also unique in the world.

"Today's conference provides a great opportunity for the communities that surround these lakes, wetlands, rivers and streams to learn and talk about how we can contribute to restoring the health of these special resources.

"As a government, we are committed to action over improving water quality and easing pressure on this precious resource. Two key strategies to help achieve this are the Water Programme of Action and the Cultural Health Index, which build on the strong relationships developed between central and local government, and enable Maori to have their research and perspectives included into regional plans for various fresh water lakes and rivers.

"These strategies also support the fantastic work already being done by local communities to restore water quality in the region. This includes the 2002 Waipa Peat Lakes and Wetlands Accord, which has bought together Environment Waikato, the Waipa District Council, the Auckland/Waikato Fish and Game Council, the Department of Conservation, and iwi, to build awareness and encourage restoration of local lakes."

ENDS

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