Multi-agency approach advocated

The Mackenzie Basin is the only place in the country where it is still possible to see the entire...
The Mackenzie Basin is the only place in the country where it is still possible to see the entire intact glacial sequence from existing glaciers in the Southern Alps, through to moraines, outwash terraces and plains. Photo: Getty Images
Twizel could be at the centre of measures proposed to protect the Mackenzie Basin and rectify the administrative "system failure" of the past.

An Environmental Defence Society report released earlier this week recommended the creation of a "dedicated multi-agency compliance team", possibly located in Twizel.

The team would undertake functions delegated from the five local authority and central government agencies involved in the administration of the area.

It would handle resource consent applications and plan changes.

And it would be responsible for developing and implementing a tourism strategy, for carrying out various monitoring, for compliance and enforcement activities and for implementing wilding pine and pest control programmes.

It would also be on the lookout for "emerging issues".

The society’s report, written by Raewyn Peart and Cordelia Woodhouse, was welcomed by Environment Canterbury, the Waitaki and Mackenzie District Councils, and the Department of Conservation and Land Information New Zealand.

In its report, the society called for better protection of the area through improved use of existing management tools.

It also recommended the establishment of a drylands protected area of publicly-owned land and a heritage landscape layer of protection over the balance of the basin.

Ms Peart said there was a need for a "radical shift" in the way the landscape was managed.

"Due to weak and conflicting policies, and poor agency performance, the basin is close to losing its unique natural and cultural values.

"The Mackenzie Basin is the only place in the country where it is still possible to see the entire intact glacial sequence from existing glaciers in the Southern Alps, through to moraines, outwash terraces and plains.

"It is home to a vast array of indigenous species, many of which are rare and especially adapted to the very harsh, cold and dry climate."

The report reviewed the development of Simons Pass Station for dairying.

"How roughly 80 separate consents were obtained for this development makes a telling story of system failure."

She noted while management had been "particularly disjointed" in the past, agencies had now joined their efforts and "there seems to be considerable will to put things right".

Environment Canterbury acting chief executive Stefanie Rixecker said she was "heartened" the report noted progress had been made but she acknowledged there was more to do.

The report was commissioned by Land Information New Zealand and the Department of Conservation.

Waitaki District Council chief executive Fergus Power said the report was "timely", and the "perceived deficiencies" it noted could be considered by the council as it drafted a new district plan.

mark.price@odt.co.nz

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