Call for better relationships

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
The call for communication and cohesion among stakeholders was reiterated by some of Southland’s catchment committee at a meeting this week.

Committee chairpeople of the Waituna, Makarewa, Oreti, Matuara, Te Anau, Aparima, Waimatuku and Waiau catchments met Environment Southland councillors during a Regional Services Committee in Winton, followed by a workshop facilitated by Coin South.

During the meeting, several chairpeople said relationships were strained with other catchment stakeholders such as mana whenua, Department of Conservation and Fish & Game.

Waituna catchment co-chairman Carl McCrostie said a Fish & Game representative attended a previous catchment meeting after a personal invite, but he had not received contact from mana whenua despite making attempts, though accepted farmers have a reputation for being confrontational.

"It’d be really good if we had the same from Doc, mana whenua, if those guys turn up and actually see what their issues are, ... build those relationships and actually move forward in a constructive way.

"When all that’s channelled through Environment Southland, the water gets muddied and it’s Chinese whispers ... Farmers are black and white, a wee bit confrontational in the way that they communicate — but ... face to face, we could actually move forward."

Integrated Catchment Management general manager Paul Hulse said non-attendance to catchment meetings did not always signal disinterest, as other stake holders were involved in lots of different ways across the region.