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Report Released On Landscape Protection In Mackenzie Basin

Yesterday, Environment Canterbury, one of the five government agencies with statutory environmental responsibilities in the Mackenzie Basin, received a copy of the Environmental Defence Society report Te Manahuna – Mackenzie Basin and Landscape Protection.

Our Acting Chief Executive, Stefanie Rixecker, said the report was an acknowledgement of the work the agencies were doing together and also provided some valuable recommendations for the Regional Council to consider as it enhances its work programme in the Basin.

"For example, we are working on a comprehensive data collection project that will give us more accuracy in terms of the amount of irrigation happening in the area," she said.

"And in the planning space, the Canterbury Regional Policy Statement is under review as we await a new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and National Environmental Statement from the Government."

Rixecker said the review will include an examination of how better to integrate Regional Council and Territorial Authority responsibilities for vulnerable landscapes such as the Mackenzie Basin.

"It will also cover any misalignments in our planning regimes," she said.

A focus on farm management plans

Rixecker said we have a rigorous monitoring, compliance and enforcement regime in the Basin and elsewhere, and all farms need a management plan to ensure they are operating at good management practice.

"Higher risk farms must gain resource consent. If resource consent is required, then farm plans are audited. If farms are not at good management practice, or on the way towards achieving it, then action is taken. This allows us to track good management practice achievement.

"To further improve our on-the-ground compliance response, Environment Canterbury now has a Senior Resource Management Officer for the Mackenzie and Upper Waitaki area based in Twizel.

"We acknowledge there is more to do. We will continue to work with Papatipu Rūnanga and the whole Mackenzie Basin community towards the improved landscape and other outcomes they are demanding," she said.

Pioneer programme for kaitiakitanga

In 2017, the five government agencies with statutory environmental responsibilities in the Mackenzie Basin, came together to form the Mackenzie Basin Agency Alignment Programme. These agencies are:

  • Environment Canterbury
  • Waitaki District Council
  • Mackenzie District Council
  • The Department of Conservation
  • Land Information New Zealand.

The programme is the first of its type in New Zealand and acknowledges the agencies' kaitiakitanga (guardianship) role to protect the iconic landscape, together with its water quality and biodiversity.

In 2018, the agencies commissioned consultants HenleyHutchings to report on opportunities for better agency alignment. Since then the focus has been on:

  1. Establishing better working relationships, understanding the work each agency is doing, and keeping each other informed of decisions.
  2. Deepening relationships and the Treaty Partnership with Papatipu Rūnanga as mana whenua of the Waitaki.
  3. Improving the Resource Management Act planning and consenting processes across the councils to be more joined up.

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