Hawkesbury Lagoon governance issues problematical

A lack of co-ordination and communication between the multiple agencies with an interest in Hawkesbury Lagoon, north of Dunedin, and its surrounds is frustrating the community group trying to restore the habitat.

Hawkesbury Lagoon Committee representatives appealed to the Otago Conservation Board at its meeting at Orokonui Ecosanctuary on Friday for help in "dealing" with the different agencies.

The committee has been working for many years to maintain and improve the 64ha lagoon, which has deteriorated.

Committee chairwoman Shirley McKewen said many agencies had oversight over different parts of the lagoon area, including the Otago Regional Council, Department of Conservation and Dunedin City Council.

As a result, it was very difficult for the committee to work out the boundaries of the lagoon reserve itself.

"They're all passing the buck, so it's difficult for the community group to accomplish something," she said.

The committee had applied to the Lottery Grants Board for funding to do a water management plan, but needed some clarity on the boundary issue to progress the work, she said.

Board member Dr Jim Williams said he had had some involvement with the issue in the past and had a "lot of empathy" for the committee.

However, the lead agency in this matter was the Otago Regional Council.

Board member Prof Abby Smith said something must be able to be done to help the committee, which had the energy to fundraise and do something about the condition of the lagoon.

Otago Conservator Marian van der Goes said there were some complex issues involved and she had sympathy for their plight.

She would see what she could do to assist.

- rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz


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