Have your say on top spots this summer

Horizons Regional Council wants to know what your freshwater top spots are by 28 February 2023 to help inform freshwater policy changes. 

This summer Horizons is asking the community three things: where do you enjoy freshwater, what water bodies do you think are outstanding, and do you agree with the criteria to determine if a water body, such as a river or a lake, is outstanding. 
General manager strategy, regulation and science Dr Nic Peet says this information is part of the Council’s Oranga Wai process and will help inform policy changes to the One Plan, the document that manages our region’s natural resources.
“This round of engagement will also influence Horizons’ water quality monitoring programme and also help determine which freshwater bodies are classified as outstanding,” says Dr Peet.
“We have some amazing freshwater spots across the region both for their recreational value and for other values such as populations of aquatic birds or unique geographical features. We have a starting point for where these sites are, however we may have missed some and we’d like the public to help identify these.” 
Dr Peet says understanding where people enjoy being on or in the water, whether that be swimming, kayaking or rafting, means Horizons can better understand if our monitoring programme suits the needs of our community or should be adapted. 
“For outstanding water bodies there is more specific criteria beyond where people play on or in the water,” he says.
“There are multiple categories that can make something outstanding, so we have built a slideshow to display the twelve water bodies in the region we think are outstanding to help people decide if we have missed any. One example of this is Waihi Falls, which Horizons believes to be outstanding due to its natural form and character. 
“If a water body is designated as outstanding it may then get extra protection, however, that is something that would be determined in the future on a case-by-case basis. This engagement round is about confirming what’s considered to assess if a water body is outstanding and what freshwater sites in our region should be labelled as such. 
 “It’s important to note that outstanding water bodies have not had cultural criteria applied to them yet, as this assessment is being progressed through engagement with tangata whenua. An external panel of experts will make recommendations on the outstanding water bodies for the region based on the final criteria developed from public and stakeholder feedback,” says Dr Peet.
The engagement is split into two parts, freshwater recreation and outstanding water bodies, online at https://bit.ly/Top-fw-spots. Here you can choose to go through to either or both of the engagements and fill out their accompanying surveys until 28 February 2023. 
A draft revision to the One Plan will be notified by the end of 2024 for the public to have their say on. All information gathered during the engagement stages is considered during the writing of the draft. 
For more information about the Oranga Wai process to date see freshwater.horizons.govt.nz.