Save the Waitaha River

Only 1% of the world's rivers remain in a wild, unmodified state. (Jan Wright, NZ Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment) The Waitaha River in South Westland is one of them but it's currently under threat from a proposed hydroelectric development - Westpower plans to divert most of the water from the spectacular Morgan Gorge in its lower reaches. In December 2016 New Zealand's outdoor community came together with submissions and statements against the scheme at a Department of Conservation hearing. Among other things, the scheme would disturb and modify pristine endemic bat and blue duck (whio) habitat, reduce a class V kayaking run, on what is known as the "Mt Cook of Rivers," to a mere trickle and industrialise the area so that it loses its wilderness feel.

There are many other issues surrounding this scheme: privatising a natural resource on public land, destroying forever what could be considered an "outstanding natural feature" in an "outstanding natural landscape" (definition), loss of habitat for native species, lack of financial viability to succeed...

The Minister of Conservation, Hon Maggie Barry, is due to make a decision in the coming months whether or not the scheme will be allowed to go ahead.

Neil's photos featured in a New Zealand Geographic story on the issue.

Links to further information:

Tony Baldwin - Financial Viability Independent Report

Wild Rivers: The Waitaha | Forest and Bird

Save the Waitaha River (facebook page)

Waitaha Hydro | rivers.org.nz