Caution advised as rāhui lifts on the Manawatū River

A rāhui that was put in place following four drownings in the Manawatū River at Ahimate Reserve in Palmerston North over the new year period has been lifted today.

Rangitāne o Manawatū representative Chris Whaiapu says the rāhui was put in place as a temporary measure to honour the families and protect the mauri or life-force of the awa (river) where the bodies lay.
“The lifting of the rāhui is a necessary part of the healing process for the families and the community,” says Mr Whaiapu.
“We acknowledge the public for their respect and support of the rāhui.”
Palmerston North City Council acting Chief Executive, Chris Dyhrberg says Rangitāne, Palmerston North City Council, Horizons Regional Council and Police have been working together since the drownings occurred.
“Over the coming weeks and months we will continue to work together to determine what we can all do to reduce the chance of a tragedy like this occurring again,” says Mr Dyhrberg.
Horizons Regional Council chief executive says rivers are dynamic entities, particularly following large rainfall events that can change a river’s flow as well as its course.
“Rivers should always be treated with caution as they can change from day to day and hazards may not always be obvious. People should consider their abilities before getting in,” says Mr McCartney.
“A change in environmental conditions can also create risks such as increased bacteria levels.”
“Ahimate is one of the 80 swim spots Horizons monitors throughout the region for water quality. When E.Coli or Cyanobacteria levels are elevated warnings are placed on to help the public make an informed decision about health risks. Alerts are also signalled here, including the recent rāhui.
“While there are many things people should consider when approaching the awa, we do not want to take away from its mana.
“A significant focus of the Manawatū River Leaders’ Accord is to engage our communities with the awa and to improve its health.
“With temperatures predicted to increase over the next few years, and as water quality continues to improve and amenities around the river are enhanced, more people will be looking to swim in the river.
“Collectively, we will continue to coordinate efforts not just on the immediate cautionary measures but longer term solutions such as water safety educational opportunities.”