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Meeting addresses Wairoa River navigation concerns

Thursday, 21 April 2011 9:15 a.m.

River wardens will help improve navigation safety on the Wairoa River next summer.

At a public meeting called by Bay of Plenty Regional Council earlier this month, jet ski and powerboat use on the Wairoa River was discussed, resulting in a request to reinstate voluntary river wardens to ensure better enforcement of navigation and safety bylaws on the river.

The meeting, which was held at the Wairoa Marae, was called to gather information on jet ski and power boat use, the effectiveness of current navigation and safety bylaws, and other issues related to the use of the Wairoa River.

Local iwi Ngāti Kahu had expressed concern to the Regional Council about their observations that powerful watercraft, waterskiers and jet skis were not obeying the five knot rule.

Bay of Plenty Regional Harbourmaster Carl Magazinovic clarified the Navigation and Safety Bylaws to those at the meeting.

"A five knot rule is in place for the entire length of the Wairoa River for all areas within 200 metres of the bank," Mr Magazinovic said. "In no areas has this limit been lifted on the Wairoa River, for any reason."

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Group Manager of Environmental Hazards, Ken Tarboton, indicated that the Regional Council would implement a system of river wardens and focus on ensuring better enforcement of the five knot rule on the Wairoa River.

"Several of those present at the meeting volunteered to act as wardens," Mr Tarboton said. "We'll carry out training during the next few months and we plan to have wardens in place before the busy summer season.

"Another area we'll be looking at is installing signs showing what the Navigation and Safety Bylaws are. We're committed to providing better signs along the river before summer," said Mr Tarboton.

Another issue that was raised at the meeting was the strategy for the Wairoa River, which is in its early stages of development. It is hoped that the strategy will address other issues of concern in the catchment that have an impact on the Wairoa River such as increased runoff and siltation, and a call for better recreation facilities along the Wairoa River.

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