Beef cattle in Waioneone tidal and freshwater springs – Whangarei Harbour

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    Lee Arbach TBP

    To – Northland Regional Council – Hotline
    and the Whangarei Harbour Catchment Group
    Cc Fonterra, Federated Farmers, DOC, NIWA, WDC, hapuu and stakeholders.

    NRC Report #043 – Beef cattle in Waioneone tidal and freshwater springs – Hatea Harbour

    As you drive around the traffic island of our new Te Matau a Pohe bridge heading towards Onerahi, you cross another bridge just before Kissing Point boat sheds and ramp. This bridge crosses the Waioneone Creek (no sign). This report refers to farm land up the Waioneone Creek and on the east side of the creek. Cattle have grazed there for many years unfenced to the tidal creek and a fresh water stream.

    This report was gained from two paddles up the Waioneone Creek in Dec 2013 and from road observations. Approximately 40x head of beef cattle were grazing the area at the time of the visits. Cattle have grazed this area for many years and the stock ratio varies from season to season. As at 12.02 2014, cattle were not in this vicinity, they were last seen some two weeks ago. They are usually seen there year round, every month for extended periods.

    There is a collective of small springs up on Waioneone Road and Konini Street. A resident where the springs pass through their property has (aptly) named them “Crystal Springs” on a sign. These springs merge and fall down through steep rocky ground and onto the farmed flats pasture area below. They create a small crystal clear stream down on the paddock flats for a distance of only 70 to 80 metres, there it then confluences with the tidal Waioneone Creek. It is here that cattle foul it by preferring to drink from this unfenced clean flowing water several times a day. There is ample “gravity feed height” to supply water to a trough near this stream if the stream was fenced off.

    The cattle defecate and urinate in the stream while standing in it to drink. Photographic evidence shows this. There are some small swampy wet lands on the north side of the stream and they graze and foul this also. It was putrid to the nose and this was from excrement and urine in the water which was also held in all the hoof pugging holes on the banks and swampy northern sides of the stream. They visit this stream several times a day and the effects could be seen entering the tidal creek not far below. This was obvious as the stream water passed through a culvert crossing and entered and discoloured the tidal waters with sediment and cattle waste pollution.

    Where it enters the tidal creek (unfenced), there are several meters of beach area where obvious signs of cattle hoof pugging showed that this is a popular area where cattle congregate as a regular occurrence. The area would no doubt cause “detrimental effects” when cattle gathered here and the pugging was seen to be below the high water mark.

    There is a tidal levy bank that extends for some 450 meters down towards the bridge on Hatea Drive. This too shows ample evidence over its distance of regular grazing unfenced to the water’s edge. Hoof marks and fouling was apparent up-to, and below the high water mark. The internal drains to this farm also hold fouled water that would find its way to the harbour during heavy rains. * Note – observation – I see many instances on unfenced tidal stream-fed creeks that cattle will come down at low tide to drink the water from the freshwater source. They seem to like the mix of some salt water with fresh water. It may be that they like the taste of some saltwater also.

    The Waioneone Creek is a good whitebait creek and a spawning nursery to a host of species that make up the Whangarei harbour marine life. Surprisingly, there was a good supply of juvenile fish at the discharge point of this stream. The fouling by cattle is intermittent during the day, but the small fish life are still very attracted to this fresh water source as it is vital to their lifecycle. Tuna/elvers also favour the Waioneone creek. It is an entry point for them to get to the waterways up on the whenua of the Abbey Caves tablelands. They would also climb their way up to the springs/puna stream to the outlets in the wetlands above on Waioneone Road and Konini Street.

    Beef and Lamb farmers are not signatories of the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord 2013. This leaves a gaping hole in NZs efforts to clean up our waterways. There is no accord or by-law that says they have to keep their cattle out of our Northern waterways. This report shows evidence of a breach of the RMA, but our NRC does not utilise RMA “detrimental effects” law to any effect in regards to cattle on the riparian of our waterways. Most other regional councils have local by-laws in place and implement it to keep “all cattle” out of waterways. The Waioneone Springs stream that cattle stand in and pollute (only metres from the tidal creek) would not have to be fenced from dairy cows as it does not meet the 2013 criteria “to exclude dairy cattle from waterways, and drains, greater than one metre in width and deeper than .300mm . So beef and dairy cattle are allowed to pollute these precious waterways with no hindrance from the Northland Regional Council. NRC proposed new policy has little or no effect either. NRC favours lower stock numbers, but this will have no effect whatsoever to get cattle out of the Waioneone Springs Stream (or any other small stream).There is law in place regarding to cattle grazing tidal and coastal waterways, but the NRC does little to apply it to effect in Northland.

    Previously sent ERP-A reports to NRC – #036 – 19.11.2013 Upper Hatea River catchment, #045 #038 – 29.11.2013 Waiarohia Stream, #045 -30.01.2014 Oakleigh beef in tidal creeks – have not had a response whatsoever from NRC. They add up to an estimated several hundred beef cattle polluting direct into waterways that flow into the Whangarei moana. Together with this report – they will now form the “Whangarei Moana Livestock Effects Survey 2014”

    Requests and Recomendations
    Request that the tidal and freshwater waterways (mentioned) are fenced with “stock exclusion fencing”.
    Request that average riparian to be no less than 10 metres from high tide and minimum 6 metres for freshwater. Recommend that “independent assessment” be adopted as part of the process to investigate this waterway (and all other in NRC region) for assessment of “stock exclusion fencing”, design type, distance from water-way, public access rights and to identify the waterways that require “stock exclusion fencing”
    Recommend that that the newly formed “Whangarei Harbour Catchment Group” and the NRC Waiora Programme initiative seek a remedy to this situation.
    *145 GPS mapped photos are provided with this report
    *Please inform the writer of action, or inaction to this correspondence

    naku noa
    Millan Ruka

    Environment River Patrol – Aotearoa


    To – Whangarei District Council and Northland Regional Council
    Cc ,DOC, NIWA, NKONWM hapuu and stakeholders.
    NRC Report #086 – Beef cattle in Waioneone tidal and freshwater springs – Whangarei Harbour
     Two previous reports were sent to NRC – Report #039 sent 29.11.2013 and Report #043 sent 14.02.2014. This is the third report and the beef cattle continue to cause “detrimental effects” some nine months later to this stream as at 17.08.2014 when gps map photos taken again.
     This is the eighth report on the Whangarei harbour catchment where beef are causing considerable damage to the riparian at seven different locations.
     The Whangarei Harbour is a NRC “priority catchment” and comes under the NRC banner of “Waiora Northland Water”. This programme takes responsibility for the wellbeing of the Whangarei Harbour and its catchments.
     Please advise what action has been taken to instruct this farmer to cease causing detrimental effects to this stream and the Whangarei Harbour.
     * NRC is now acknowledging receipt of ERP-A reports, but there is no “out-come” on the actual action taken to several recent reports. ERP-A has been advised by NRC that some fencing has been completed on the tidal banks at Waioneone, but this report shows severe effects continue to the nearby fresh water stream.
     These reports are clear breaches of the RMA and NRC are duty bound to resolve the issue and to not to let it carry on as is demonstrated in this report.
     148x gps map photos are attached with this report. 4x photos were taken 17.08.2014, the balance were supplied in previous reports #039 and #043

    naku noa
    Millan Ruka
    Environment River Patrol – Aotearoa

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