Trout Fishing Federation Opposes Tradeable Water Rights

The current debate about charging for water should not open the door to tradeable water rights says a national trout anglers organisation. The NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers has opposed the right of water use holders to sell those rights, a system not unlike sea fisheries quotas.

Ken Sims of the Manawatu and spokesman for the Federation said tradeable fish quotas had resulted in the resource being dominated by big corporate companies who buy up rights thus aggregating quota.

In a relatively short time it becomes monopolised by the big corporations,” he said. “This monopoly is reflected in the undue excessive political pressure that corporates put on government both ministries and ministers.”

Ken Sims said water was essentially a public resource. He rejected the immediate past prime minister John Key’s opinion that water belong to no one. “It’s public property irrespective of wealth, ethnic background or social class. New Zealand is an egalitarian country and water reflects that,” he said.

He pointed to the fact that in some overseas countries, recreational groups have had to ‘buy back’ water rights from corporations, just to ensure that natural ecosystems and flows were maintained.

The New Zealand public, and recreational waterway users, see the trade in water rights, as already occurs in some South Island areas, as just another example of the agricultural industry ‘thumbing its nose’ at the public’s ownership.

This has to stop” Ken Sims said. “It’s public water. If you don’t want what you have been allocated, then leave the stuff where you found it”.

Laws should be implemented to prevent the direct “wheeling and dealing” of water rights by prohibiting trading in it, he added.

Selwyn River update

Greetings All

I was invited by the 7 Rivers Project group to speak to those who assembled (and on camera) at Coe’s Ford before their hikoi along the Selwyn’s empty river bed. I instead nominated Alan Strong. He is from a family who have had a crib in the Selwyn Huts “for ever”. He is an engineer and recently co-opted F&G Councillor. His life time of history on that river was ammunition enough to counter the party line, and some deliberate mis-information, from Fed Farmers and ECAN.

He delivered what I had hoped Colin could do when I asked him earlier, as Colin also had a history on the river; unlike me.

The plight of the Selwyn River has captured the public’s (and the news media’s) attention. It is the end point toward which every river in Aotearoa is heading unless things change drastically – see the article posted by Ian today.

This hikoi was followed by a public meeting at Lincoln. 150 attended, F&G councillors, farmers, environmental group reps, locals, etc, but no visible reporters, Alan was on the panel and was again impressive. Sadly the meeting did not pass a resolution but the sentiment was very strong about the loss of a river. 

There are different ways to skin a cat and Alan has summarized these in the attached paper. Even if the Selwyn River means nothing to you it could be the “Sharpville massacre” equivalent in the public’s fight/crusade to regain our rivers.

I am still active in trying to get a Chch Eco-hub established. It has real potential to put pressure on politicians, local and national, to wake up over water issues.

As the chair on One Voice Te Reo Kotahi (OVTRK = 140 small NGOs and community groups) I get regular meetings, at least quarterly, with local senior staff of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, ECAN, all three local Councils, the Urban Development Strategy group, CDHB and Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu. Although we primarily facilitate communication between these organizations and the 140 groups on our register the organizing group members are able to raise water issues every single time. It is part of a squeaky wheel gets oiled approach.

We cannot count on a revolution and, as yet, we have no guarantee that a change of government will solve our issues. Many of these issues developed under the last Green/Labour/NZ First administration..

As they say in Thailand. The only way to eat an elephant is one mouthful at a time.

Reflect on Alan Strong’s paper and consider whether in is happening in a river near you!


  • The paper sets out some of the main impacts on the lake as of last year. The main lake issue is the lack of in-flow (ditto for spawning). This leads to a lack of “flushing” of the lake and a build up of a fairly toxic mix of phosphates and nitrates; toxic that is to all but the lethal algal blooms. Of particular significance is the lake level. I have an article coming up in the next NZFFA newsletter on the Canterbury situation in terms of river, and the lake, volumes. On the date that I researched the volumes the mean lake level was just 0.52m. Remember this is NZ’s 5th largest lake!!!!

  • The sea-run browns are in dire straits. F&G closed sea-run winter fishing last season, and next, in order to assist them to recover.

  • The eel numbers are just a fraction of what they were but over-fishing has also contributed to this. The eels were sent off to Holland and Germany willy nilly and, of course they were free to the harvesting folk, just like our water is to the bottlers. I have/had photos taken in 1971 of the night time migration over the bar at Taumutu at full moon in Feb and March – a hundred thousand a night – but that is just a memory. After the Selwyn, Irwell etc dried up so did their habitat. The lake was just a gathering place prior to migration. There is a wonderful old movie available through the National Film library (hopefully on disc now) called “Eel history was a mystery”. It shows the eel harvesting at Birdling’s Flat in the 1930s and 40s. What I saw at Taumutu in the 70s was similar.

  • Yes!! We are heading the same way as the USA. The Grand Canyon was carved out by the mighty Colorado River. It has ceased however to reach the sea for over 20 years in recent times as the result of over exploitation for irrigation. At least the US Federal government stopped funding irrigation projects in the 1970s.

Eh? What’s Happening Later this Year?

by Tony Orman
Kapiti Fly Fisher Club editor Malcolm Francis’ e mail reminded  me “an election is looming in September and the issues with the present Governments attitudes to clean rivers not easy.
As if I didn’t know.  You see one of my early mentors in deerstalking and trout fishing was the late John B Henderson, president of the NZ Deerstalkers’ Association and a councillor on the Wellington Acclimatisation Society for a number of years. John and I hunted the Tararuas behind Otaki Forks and he showed me in the 1950s, how to fish the dry fly on the Wairarapa’s Makakahi and Mangatainoka rivers.
He was a tireless and brilliant advocate. John was intelligent and well educated and yet  by nature was humble and a true gentleman. He believed in fighting strongly for a clean environment and sensible fish and game management. He never shied away from politics because he had a strong belief it was everyone’s right and duty to get in and question politicians. His philosophy rubbed off onto me I guess. 
No wonder I had a prolonged feisty, public debate with government cabinet minister Duncan Mcntyre in Hastings prior to the 1972 election. A main subject was trout farming but selling land to rich Americans to exploit fishing and hunting values and “Save Manapouri” from raising the lake to give discounted power to an multinational corporate for a an aluminium smelter also featured. McIntyre was defeated in the Hasting seat, a dumping which the “NZ Herald” editorial described as a “shock result.”
“I urge the public to be more determined to bring the debate to the public for its judgement and never to be duped into believing that politics and the environment are other than cause and effect,” John said on more than one occasion in his NZDA speeches or Victoria University environmental lectures.
What this means is threats to your trout fishing start with politics. Same with sea fishing. For example, corporate sea fishing companies lobby their minister. Dairying , irrigation, forestry and other powerful commercial interests lobby politicians and departments. They employ persons to do just that. Corporates make donations to political parties to gain favour and precedence over the public interest.
In 1972 the outdoor public voted strongly against an arrogant government. But it seems today there’s a contagious doziness and a whole lot of inertia out there. After all a million Kiwis cannot be bothered registering as a voter or to vote in general elections. The fishing and hunting arena is no different. Take Fish and Game Councils. Recent fish and game elections, there’s been that inertia with a number of regions not having enough nominations to fill the seats around tables. Voting numbers were poor.
It’s that inertia that contributes to mediocre government and local councils with poor decision making.
You might say, “well set an example”. Well since the 1970s I’ve spent about 25 years on various Acclimatisation Society councils and on their successor fish and game councils plus a few other fishing, hunting and environmental bodies to boot. I’ve done my dash – I reckon it’s younger people’s turn.
But in a general election I can vote and I always have and will in future.
I confess I’m a swinging voter having voted for Labour, National, even Social Credit (remember them?) and NZ First to name some. Swinging voters are the ones who make the difference. Apparently just a 2% swing in voting can decide which party makes it to government. And under MMP the parties other than Labour or National can form government. Pundits are picking NZ First to make a big impact come September.
Malcolm highlighted “clean rivers” as a big issue. Indeed water and rivers I believe, will be a very big issue. This government proposes to centralise things – that’s a word for dictatorial “state control” in my book. It proposes “centralising” the functioning of the Resource Management Act. In one way you can feel sorry for government  as its case is not helped by its spokesman the often rude, abrasive, ego-centric Environment Minister Nick Smith.
I am concerned about a few other issues. 1080 poison (again use of it has been centralised to government) – no one really knows its effect on freshwater ecosystems except I understand eels and freshwater crayfish have been found with 1080 residues way above permissible levels. I’m concerned about foreigners buying farm and forestry (2016 figures show a very big increase in foreign buyers compared to 2015) and blocked access. Excessive tourists and freedom campers pooping by riversides anger me. I’m concerned at total mismanagement of sea fisheries. Kahawai, which I enjoy fly rodding for, have been plundered by corporate purse seiners.
Perhaps you may disagree with me. I’d be delighted if you agreed or disagreed. Either reaction shows you’re not afflicted with inertia and apathy.
Thankfully groups like NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers and Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations are advocacies. Personally I’m disappointed with the lack of strong advocacy at election times by NZ Fish and Game. But then bizarrely when Fish and Game Councils were set up in 1987 they were made by law, duty bound to the Minister of Conservation. I believe Fish and Game’s first and foremost moral duty is to its shareholders, i.e. licence holders. Perhaps then action is over to the individual – you?
 So to the forthcoming general election, take an interest. Study policies and MPs statements, even go to candidate meetings or through letters to editor, facebook etc., ask questions on key issues such as clean rivers, 1080, irrigation, foreign ownership, pollution or whatever.
 Make a difference this  election.

Dairy effluent discharges result in large fines

A farmer and a family company have been convicted and fined a total of $65,750 for unlawful discharges of dairy effluent on two Waikato farms.

Ian Douglas Troughton and GT & AB Limited were convicted and sentenced by Judge David Kirkpatrick in the Auckland District Court for offences under the Resource Management Act.  The discharges occurred between December 2015 and March 2016 at farms located at Patetonga and Turua.

The prosecution, brought by Waikato Regional Council, followed a complaint about effluent management practices on one of the farms in December 2015. A council inspection found that effluent had overflowed from a small sump flowing 130 metres across the paddock and into a farm drain that linked to the Piako River.

The farm had previously been inspected in 2012 by the council and Mr Troughton had been advised that the effluent storage was inadequate and at high risk of overflowing.

Council staff inspected another property owned by Mr Troughton in March 2016.  A pipe was found to be discharging dairy effluent from an underpass directly into a paddock where it had formed a large pond. The effluent had also made its way to a farm drain that links to the Waihou River. Council staff gave direction to the farmer to clean up the effluent. However this was not done.

The council’s investigations manager Patrick Lynch said:  “The inadequacy of the effluent management system on the first farm was clearly pointed out to the farmer some years ago but he elected to do nothing about it.

It is disappointing that we have had to revert to prosecution to, hopefully, bring about positive behavioural change. We trust that the fines imposed here serve as a reminder to all farmers to have adequate storage for their dairy effluent and be vigilant with their management of their systems.”

I wasn’t questioning how many dairy farms were in the Waikato, and fully understand the enormity of this task. However once a non-compliant farmer IS identified the task is made 100% easier.

Part of the pollution problems we have is down to a few farmers that won’t act and carry out compliance requirements when advised and this gives all farmers a very bad name, when in fact it is a few that should where this title.

Fishing and Outdoors newspaper

The bigger issue here is once the Counciil found that ‘Mr Troughton had been advised that the effluent storage was inadequate and at high risk of overflowing

in 2012 is why did the Council not closely monitor it?

Why did it take 3-4 years and why did the Council wait for and act on a complaint?



Waikato Regional Council

Hi Graham

Re your comments below:

·     We were disappointed that guidance was given to Mr Troughton, as it is given to many farmers, and he elected not to act on it.

·    We trusted that he would act on the advice given to him.

·    There are approximately 4500 thousand dairy farms in the Waikato and we are simply not able to visit every farm on a regular basis.  We are reliant on the eyes and ears of the community to make us aware of potential breaches so that we may respond accordingly, as occurred here.

·    You will note that it was a proactive inspection of the second farm that found the discharges there.


Stephen Ward senior communications advisor (media)
Waikato Regional Council

Fishing and Outdoors newspaper

In this case the non-compliant farmer was identified, he was given advise as you say. Then there is a time period of 3-4 years before Council acted on a complaint made by a member of the public!!

Really, so from what you are saying Council ignored the non-compliant farmer until a complaint was made by a member of the public.

This is exactly where the problem lies.

Council are not following up on non-compliant farmers.

I would presume that the number of non-compliant farmers would be relatively small at 5% of 4500 that would be 225. Hardly a difficult task given the time period of 3-4 years!!

This shows that Council need a major shakeup on how they deal with this issue surely.