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Wairau River Regional Park Plan Gets Green Light

A “visionary” new regional park along the banks of the lower Wairau River will be the first of its kind in Marlborough.

Council’s Assets & Services Committee has decided to contract a project manager to draft a new Regional Park Management Plan and oversee a public consultation process.

This will include partnering and co-designing the plan with mana whenua iwi and seeking feedback from the community and river users on issues, opportunities and ideas for managing the river as a regional park. This process is expected to take up to 14 months.

Committee chair Nadine Taylor said the project was visionary and would safeguard and strengthen the natural values of Marlborough’s iconic Wairau River. “The river is the lifeblood of our region. This status will lift it up to be protected and acknowledged as the treasured taonga that it is.”

She said the regional park will also help to reduce infestation and spread of noxious weeds and provide numerous opportunities for amenity enhancements – such as native planting groves, safer walking and cycling tracks, horse riding areas and activities such as fishing, rafting and swimming.

The Wairau River flows 170kms from the Southern Alps to Cook Strait. The proposed regional park, from the confluence of the Waihopai River to the sea, will protect and enhance the river and its environs as well as encourage positive recreational use, in keeping with Council’s flood protection measures.

There has been an increase in undesirable activity in the area in recent times including reckless use of motor vehicles and illegal dumping. “A formalised management plan will deter this and better manage conflicting user-groups. It will also highlight management areas to protect existing and future flood control works.

“The establishment of a regional park is in line with how other areas of New Zealand have dealt with similar issues, such as the Ashley/Rakahuri and Waimakariri rivers in Canterbury. The implementation of plans for these rivers has stood the test of time and been successfully supported by the community,” she said.

Mooted by the Marlborough Landscape Group during the 2020 Annual Plan submission process, Council has now approved $30,000 to be funded towards the project from the Forestry and Land Development Reserve in the 2020-21 financial year.

More information about the public consultation process will be made available once confirmed.

The committee decision is subject to confirmation at the next Council meeting on 10 December.

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