On a national scale

Jul 19, 2012

So far, five of the 10 CWMS Zone Committees have produced implementation programmes, with the others expected later this year. Also, the regional committee has produced its plan.

That’s quite an achievement in just 18 months, considering the controversies of the past, and the powerful economic imperatives at play.

If accepted, the zone implementation plans will become rules in the new Land and Water Regional Plan being prepared by ECan.

ECan commissioner and former Labour Government minister David Caygill says a key element to the CWMS has been to try to simultaneously address environmental targets with the same seriousness and vigour as development projects.

Caygill says by the time the Government-appointed commissioners have completed their term in late 2013, they will have taken the strategy from a visionary statement to the point where it is starting to effect real change,

“The strategy I think of as a 20-year strategy, but some of the targets go out to 2040. There was a lot that was never going to be achieved in just a couple of years.”

If you think achieving consensus on water use is difficult at a regional level, try it on a national scale. Yet that is what around 80 people representing 60 organisations and five iwi that make up the Land and Water Forum have achieved.

The forum was formed four years ago to try and achieve a national consensus on water management. It has since produced two reports with another due later this year. Its first report established goals for water management. Its second included recommendations for maintaining water quality including that water must be managed for the values dear to all New Zealanders and iwi must be involved at every stage of that process.

Given that the disparate group included representatives from iwi, farmers, energy companies, and environmental groups, the consensus the forum has achieved is remarkable.

Everyone bought into the process, says Ngāi Tahu’s representative, David Perenara-O’Connell (Ngāi Tahu – Ngāi Te Ruahikihiki/Kāti Huirapa, Ngāi Te Rakitāmau).

He says it was hard work at times and there were stakeholders around the table more used to an adversarial process and wielding a cheque book when required. “But there was an interesting force at work and an overall willingness that we have to do better as a national community.

“Some of the topics and conversations got tense and I would sit there waiting for the moment when someone would storm out of the room. Over five years, no one has stormed out. Everyone is locked into the process because you have bought into it and effectively made gains. If you walk out, you negate those gains.”

The forum’s first report was acknowledgement that 60 key water stakeholders could sit round a table, define problems, opportunities and solutions. “The second report was closer to the bone. How do you put a framework of hard limits in place at a national level and get buy-in from everyone?”

The forum also wants iwi involved at every step of decision making at a regional level. Both the Land and Water Forum and the discussions going on at community and regional level in Canterbury were important in educating other stakeholders about iwi environmental values, Perenara-O’Connell says.

“There was recognition from all those key stakeholders that iwi as Treaty partners have a special place alongside the Crown. To have those organisations acknowledge that in 2012 is huge.”

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