Killing the creek





In regard to the Ruataniwha aquifer concerns, I have lived in the Ruataniwha district for 84 years and farmed here on Lindsay Rd for 65 of those 84 years. I grew up on the Onga Onga end of Lindsay Rd, attending Ruataniwha School, where my father and uncle farmed in my formative years. During this time the “Mate” creek was a loyal friend to me, a constant companion that never let me down. Coupled with this, the “Mate” creek was my family’s livelihood, our main source of water. It was a thriving creek with abundant fresh water fish including eels, crayfish, trout, inanga (whitebait) and the occasional flounder. A dream for a boy growing up. Over the last 20 years, I have seen a huge change in my friend. In 2019/2020 the creek very nearly went dry. As an older farmer today it shook me rigid to see such an abundant creek nearly go dry. I feel the regional council let me down as they didn’t appear to take any notice of this drastic change. However late last year, 2020, the creek was back to flowing normally, but early November this year, I spent half an hour on my quad bike sitting beside a deep part of my old friend and noticed there was none of the abundance of fresh water fish I knew. Nothing. To me, my friend was dead. Late November, about 15 days later, I again spent half an hour sitting alongside my friend before it joins the Tukituki River (under the new bicycle track bridge) and again the water appeared similar to what I had seen three weeks previously — dead. Over the last four to five years I have noticed there is a much larger type of watercress, huge stems, which are taking over in the creek. I believe this sizable watercress is thriving on nitrogen fertiliser, a supposed part of modern farming. I believe if people want to enjoy a creek in the form I enjoyed for many years in my youth we need to stop this fertiliser. Coupled with this, those with access to higher water levies than others, due to past arrangements, should be taxed relative to the amount of water used, as two key starting points. I feel we owe it to my old friend, who never let me or many others down, a chance for it to thrive as it did for me when I was a boy. (Abridged) David Hamilton Waipukurau