Weekend Walk along the Waipa

Well, it was a lovely day for a walk in the countryside.
Pity about the cow-poo in the river, though!

Te Awamutu branch invited Waikato members (& some locals who are interested) along to see for themselves just what the water quality degradation is like in our region.
This was to have been a “Dirty Rivers Tour” kayak down the river, with Russel Norman and Eugenie Sage leading the way, but the drought has led to lower water levels than usual, to the point where kayaking was deemed irresponsible.
Eugenie came along, fresh from appearing on TV earlier in the day in Auckland on The Nation for TV3.

Local farmer Keith Hutton liased with farmers Gary Charlston and John Pievenga so that our group, ably led by Te Awamutu Branch convenor Leane Steele, could have an up-close-and-personal tour of the banks of the Waipa River, and see for ourselves what the risks are from stock grazing on the river margins.

We were also lucky enough to have Regional Councillors Stu Kneebone and Paula Southgate with us, to give an overview of how the WRC is dealing with water quality management and current trends in water quality, along with District Councillor Laurie Hoverd.

From the Pievenga’s farm we were able to see some examples of riparian planting along a stream on the farm, and some riverside remediation work across the river on the site of the 1820’s battle at Matakitaki, an area of land that has been recently returned to the local iwi alongside Purekireki Marae. The Waipa flows swiftly here, and seems narrow – I had to be reminded by a local that during the land wars, British flat-hulled battleships were steamed up these rivers to deliver troops into the battles. Much history here, amongst the green and wooded rolling hills, with the river looping and twisting.

Another piece of local lore shared was to do with the Pirongia Restoration Society, who have run environmental projects on Mt Pirongia for a while now, beginning with a pilot area in 2006 and now working to bring the birds back into Pirongia Forest Park all over the peak of the mountain.
They have funding from Waikato River Authority to get an envirocentre going in Pirongia Village, and have a project to restore the river margins along the Waipa River, in partnership with Waipa District Council and the Pirongia Residents and Ratepayers’ Association. Grassroots action at it’s best, with huge local community support.

Update:
I completely forgot to plug the work Eugenie has been doing on the RMA, which is under threat of further dilution by National. See here for the submission guide and links to relevant information. Deadline 5pm, Tuesday 2nd April 2013 – that’s straight after the Easter break.

I’m only going to say something briefly about the job losses at DoC – it stinks, and 140 more redundant public servants is not how to improve the ‘bottom line’, Mr Key, especially whilest there is more legislation in the works to demonise the unemployed – how is adding to the pool of well-qualified, experienced unemployed going to help matters?
Canberra will once more be absorbing our best and brightest, at what cost to our future viability as a functioning nation? This is such venal and short-sighted ‘cost-cutting’ that I’m tempted to rant at length about corruption amongst Government Ministers, since it so obviously prefers the enactment of policies that favour MNC’s who wish to operate in our country.

Back in the House, and Back Benches.

Well, it was a marathon busy day yesterday.
Seven maiden speeches in the House by new Green MP’s, our highest number of new MP’s since the Party first came into Parliament in 1999.
There’s speech transcripts and Parlie TV footage on Frogblog. So I’m not going to repeat the review of the afternoon’s speeches, except to say that I was very moved by each and every one of them, some who have been colleagues on issues campaigning for over ten years.
There are concurrent numbers of extra parliamentary Green office staff, too, so the mix’n’mingle afterwards was a good catch-up time & helped to work out who’s doing which jobs post-election.

Then later, on to the Back Bencher pub for another round of Damian and Wallace ‘back on home soil’, as they put it themselves, which seems like an extraordinary admission from two Aucklanders.

Eugenie Sage had her first experience on the panel, along with Alfred Ngaro (N), David Clarke (L, Dunedin North) and Richard Prosser (NZ 1st). There were some interesting moments as panelists wrestled with ways not to answer direct questions put by the presenters, and some bemusement when Prosser appeared to be quoting history when responding to questions about his party’s policies.

Alfred Ngaro (obscured), Wallace, David Clarke, Eugenie Sage, Damian obscuring Richard Prosser completely.

Alfred Ngaro (obscured), Wallace, David Clarke, Eugenie Sage, Damian obscuring Richard Prosser completely.

Holly Walker and a table of Green family & friends got quite a bit of notice during the evening, as well, especially during Damian’s wee pep talk to get incidental footage to use in the promo for this season of Back Benches. Being such great sports, none of the extremely relaxed Young Greens even considered the option of asking for appearance fees for performing in an advertisement.

Voluble and Relaxed Young Greens surrounding MP Holly Walker.

Voluble and Relaxed Young Greens surrounding MP Holly Walker.

Myself, I was hiding down the back with some more mature friends, and chewing my way through most of a block of Whitaker’s Dark Almond; my only concession to Valentine’s Day being to buy myself what I like, and share it with those I happen to be with as the week progresses. Don’t even bother trying to spot us, we were well shielded by loquacious and inebriated folk in the table nearer the bar.

The full episode is here on TV7’s chunk of the On-demand website.
Do have a look for the petition to save TV7 as well, while I’ve got your attention.
If nobody bothers, we lose them mid-year when this season finishes.