David Haynes Column for Reel Life November 2018

  • 27/11/2018

David Haynes Column for Reel Life November 2018


“New Zealand has been backward over water storage because we waste so much of it, it just flows out to sea.” - Conor English as Chief Executive of Federated Farmers.

“We capture a mere two per cent of our country’s total rainfall, the rest pours out to sea!’’ – Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean.

‘‘It is wasteful that we only capture around two per cent of rainfall in New Zealand, with the rest roaring out to sea.’’ – ex-Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy.

Aside from the fact people who make such statements are afforded positions of power, let alone allowed to use sharp cutlery unsupervised, the notion that unconsumed freshwater is “wasted,” has, like a bad penny, resurfaced this time care of Ngai Tahu elder Sir Tipene O’Regan.

Earlier this month the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science organised a conference at Lincoln University – the subject matter a snapshot of where the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS) is at.  Irrigation, land use intensification, pollution and abstraction were obviously on the agenda, as was guest speaker Sir Tipene who had this to say (amongst many things) "The West Coast just pours itself out into the Tasman Sea” as part of his suggestion that, rather than continue to use water to make milk, we should bottle and export the water.

He referred to his belief that it takes 40 litres of water to make 1 litre of milk as one reason to sell the water not the milk. Had he correctly recognised that, in Canterbury, it takes 1,084 litres, no doubt his enthusiasm for selling water would escalate further.

Had Sir Tipene, and all those who place greater import on their own opinions than they do hard facts, taken time to refer to hydrologists, oceanographers and ecologists it might have tempered their belief of “wasted water”.  Might I even be so bold as to suggest that our planet’s infinitely complex processes which have evolved over five billion years might in fact be a tad superior to notions thought up at breakfast by those who can only see water in dollar terms?

I am grateful to hydrologists in the U.S. and N.Z. for providing the following observations on the critical part rivers play when they flow out to sea:

  • The positive pressure exerted by rivers flowing out to sea repels saltwater intrusion into our lowlands and groundwater.
  • Seasonal fluctuations in river flow and temperature determine the spawning runs of our native and sports fish.
  • Rivers deliver food to estuaries – where globally the richest biodiversity exists.
  • Flowing rivers keep river mouths open, reducing the impact of floods.
  • Rivers deliver gravels and sands to replenishes foreshores naturally denuded by coastal erosion.


I love this topic, if only because it invariably elicits uncomplimentary emails from Australians.

Fish and Game New Zealand Council is always looking to broaden its customer base and has engaged Steve Doughty, a business consultant, to lead this initiative. Steve came to Nelson/Marlborough F&G Council and gave a compelling presentation on his progress to date, particularly in the area of angler participation by profile, including breaking this down further by residents and non-residents.

Like me, a lot of us passionate anglers have always perceived non-resident anglers as serious fishers with capability, equipment and money who come here for one reason only – to fish as much as conditions will allow.  Discussions on the impact of non-resident anglers in terms of backcountry pressure, angler encounters and “what needs to be done” are all hinged on this angler profile. With tourism industry advocates gleefully heralding a near doubling of visitors to our shores over the next ten years, many anglers worry this will translate to even more pressure of sensitive backcountry fisheries.

Perhaps this is not so; Steve’s analysis of historical participation of anglers shows that the majority, around two thirds, of overseas visitors who fish are casual participants who try it once or twice for the experience, relying on charter boats on lakes in the main, in much the same way as they try white water rafting, kayaking, standing on a glacier and cuddling a Kiwi. The data shows the majority of overseas angling participants are more dilettante than devotee – an opportunity which can provide valuable additional revenue to enable F&G to do more for trout and habitat, without displacement or disruption. 

Good news!

David Haynes

Executive Member, NZFFA

Email: david@outdoorsparty.co.nz

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