Rapids decline

This week, four Otago waterways were declared "lost rivers'' because of their degraded nature, so the issues raised in Seven Rivers Walking (Rialto) are of particular interest.


Directors: Gaylene Barnes and Kathleen Gallagher
Cast: Paul Stewart, Bill Southward, Paul Hodgson, Rosalie Snovink, Danny Fisher, Dave Hatton, Mike Glover, Helen Duckworth, Rua Pick, Gabriel Calcott, Graeme Kates, Katarina Te Maiharoa
Rating: (E) ★★★+

We tag along with interested parties as they walk the rivers of the Canterbury basin and listen as they outline how things have gone wrong. We start at the Rakaia River mouth with a group of anglers who remember when fish used to run and the mouth was vast. Then we skip to the Selwyn District and the Waikirikiri headlands with a group of rafters. Later we learn that this river that looks so photogenic is number 10 on a list of the 10 worst rivers in New Zealand.

We hear from farmers who remember family picnics by their river, but who have not swum in it for years. Fish and Game are worried about sediment preventing salmon spawning. Forest and Bird are worried about loss of nesting habitat.

And as we follow the walkers, drone footage begins to reveal the not-so-secret reason why the rivers in Canterbury are in such crisis: irrigation leading to intensive dairy farming.

There is an element of preaching to the choir with me, but even if you are not yet convinced, these aren't wild-eyed hippies. Rather they are mostly solid middle New Zealanders who want their grandchildren to be able to experience what they enjoyed in their youth.

 -  Christine Powley

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