4. Background

This page has section four of the New Zealand Fish and Game Council and the Otago Fish and Game Council application to amend the Water Conservation (Kawarau) River) Order. 

4.1  The Minister of Conservation originally applied for a Water Conservation Order in respect of the Kawarau River and all contributing waters, including Lake Wakatipu, its inflowing streams and rivers and all tributaries of the Kawarau including the Nevis River.

4.2  The application was made on 23 October 1990 under the Water and Soil Conservation Act 1967. The Resource Management Act 1991 ("RMA") came into force on 1 October 1991.  The Minister for the Environment decided that the application was to be dealt with as if it had been made under the RMA.  The applications and submissions were considered by a Special Tribunal in accordance with Part IX of the RMA.

4.3  The Special Tribunal made its report on the hearing of the application to the Minister for the Environment in December 1993.  Several appeals were lodged, however these only proceeded to the Planning Tribunal in respect of the Shotover River alone.  The Special Tribunal's findings and recommendations in respect of the Nevis were not challenged, or reconsidered by the Planning Tribunal.  The Planning Tribunal then made its report and recommendation to the Minister for the Environment on 13 June 1996 and the Order was gazetted in March 1997.

4.4  The Minister of Conservation had sought in the application for the Order that there be a specific prohibition on damming or diverting the Nevis River.  The Otago Fish and Game Council also submitted to the Special Tribunal that there be a prohibition on damming the Nevis River on order to protect the fishery.

4.5  The Order granted protection to the Nevis River's wild and scenic characteristics and its recreational purposes in particular fishing and kayaking. However, the final Order did not prohibit the damming of the Nevis River.

4.6  Fish and Game have always considered that there should be a prohibition on the damming of the Nevis River but at the time it did not appeal the decision because first, it did not have the resources and second, it appeared that the WCO restrictions would not allow development in practical terms.  

4.7  This application has been prompted by new published information on the river’s outstanding landscape, heritage values, trophy trout fishery characteristics and conservation values, including native fishery values and increasing public awareness of the fragile and finite nature of backcountry recreational settings.  Conservation and sports fisheries objectives have been defined in statutory Department of Conservation and Fish and Game plans approved by the Minister of Conservation since the original decision.  Continuing interest in the Nevis River for hydroelectric power development poses a serious and unacceptable threat to existing values.

4.8  Letters of support from a range of conservation and recreation groups are attached as Appendix 10.