Wetlands part of solution of nutrients in waterways

In some ways I admire the tenacity of Roger Alexander in spending 30 years of his life creating a lake at Puketapu (Puketapu Lake worth 30 year wait 20/2/18). However I am at a loss for words to read that he describes, and dismisses the original wetlands as merely a swamp. I get that the thinking of 30 years ago was not as enlightened as it is today so I forgive Mr Alexander for starting down the path that he chose.

In saying that it is unfortunate that he does not appear to show any remorse for the destruction of such an important area of bio-diversity. Wetlands are not only major areas of natural habitat and bio-diversity, they also act as the kidneys of our waterways filtering out much of the sediment, and many of the nutrients which have proved to be so destructive to our environment.

What Mr Alexander has done would not be acceptable today. At Hawke’s Bay Regional Council we face huge challenges with sediment and nutrients entering our waterways and marine costal environment. Wetlands are part of the solution to that challenge and thankfully we are looking at restoring our wetlands, not destroying them. One only has to look at the success of the Pakipaki wetlands to see what should be applauded and the direction we need to take.

Published 22 February

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The Mayor’s response 27/2/18

 

If the Napier mayor considers my recent letter decrying the use of the term swamp in describing wetlands as ‘ill-informed’ then we have some have some real challenges in front of us (Auction and Fair wonderful 27/2/18). One has to wonder if it is this sort of thinking that has lead us down the path of chlorinated water and raw sewerage being dumped into the Ahurihi Estuary when, during the amalgamation debate, we were assured that Napier’s infrastructure maintenance was up to date and all tickty boo.

The mayor needs to re-read my letter. In no way did I denigrate Lake Puketapu. I also made it very clear that I forgave Mr Alexander for starting down the path he chose. My frustration was in his referring to what was a wetland as simply a swamp. I remain unapologetic for this.

Like many issues that have confronted us as a society if we wish to change culture, then we need to change the thinking. I liken this to how society has changed it’s views on smoking, seatbelts, drinking driving, and speeding. We need to stop thinking of wetlands as swamps in need of ‘development’. It is reassuring that the vast majority of landowners have already come to this realisation but given that about 98% of the wetlands in Hawke’s Bay have been lost already we all need to get on board. If changing this mentality means that we need to highlight instances when it happens then so be it. As far as I’m concerned it’s called leadership. We simply can not continue to stick our heads in the sand and say everything is all right. What remains of our wetlands are far too important to do otherwise.

Submitted 27/2/18

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