The Shag River, in East Otago, won the Grand Award at the
inaugural New Zealand River Awards last week. Photo by the
Otago Regional Council.
The success of Otago's rivers in the inaugural New
Zealand River Awards is testament to the farmers who work the
land in Otago's catchments, Federated Farmers says.
The Shag River won the Grand Award at the awards - which
recognise the most significant improvements in river health
in New Zealand - in Wellington last Thursday, while the
Waikouaiti River came third.
Federated Farmers water spokesman Ian Mackenzie said the Shag
River had ''come a long way'' since 10 years ago and ''it is
a credit to those farmers who care for and value their
''Change is hard for everyone, but once you take the time to
get everyone on board you can really make a difference,'' Mr
''Changing the result of 30 years of degradation is not a
quick fix - there is no instant gratification - so that is
why 10 years on from the water management plan's
implementation you are seeing some positive results.''
Federated Farmers Otago president Stephen Korteweg said he
was pleased with the result.
''There has been a significant improvement in E. coli levels
in the river over the past 10 years, with levels recovering
by 13% a year since 2004,'' Mr Korteweg said.
''It hasn't always been smooth, but we have a great working
relationship with the Otago Regional Council now, and we're
excited to build on the progress being made. It has proven
that while changing practices on individual farms may appear
to be insignificant, the cumulative impact across a catchment
can be enough to turn the tide on deteriorating water
Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead accepted the
award on behalf of the Otago community and said he was
''immensely gratified'' the Shag River had won.
''It was a huge pleasure to accept the award, particularly on
behalf of farmers and others in the catchment who have worked
hard to implement rules in the Otago water plan aimed at
improving water quality,'' Mr Woodhead said.