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Mr and Mrs Manning (both 75) have been making the journey from their Alexandra home to the Golden Gate Lodge at Cromwell to sit in on what has been four weeks of hearings so far this year.
They are the only members of the public to observe, without participation, every day of the proceeding. They observed the initial resource consent hearing for Project Hayes at Alexandra last winter.
Mr Manning also sat through 66 days of initial and appeal hearings for Contact Energy's licence application for water permits to operate its dams at Clyde and Roxburgh. He travelled as far as Dunedin for parts of the Contact hearings, which took place over two years.
The joy of listening to unlimited numbers of lawyers, expert witnesses, and hearing panel members was likened to a "University of the Third Age", he said.
Mr Manning, who has served on a variety of councils, committees, and organisations, said observing and being involved in such hearings was important for understanding the future of the changing world in which we lived.
"It's a wonderful learning experience," he said.
• The Environment Court appeal hearing into the Project Hayes application was adjourned at Cromwell on Friday and will resume in January at a venue yet to be announced.