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Published: 2003-07-18 00:00:00

A community forum has been set up in Taupo to involve residents and stakeholders in plans to protect the lake and its surrounding area.

The 2020 Taupo-nui-a-tia Project – a three year project to develop a long term vision for Lake Taupo and its catchment – is now in its third year. This week’s Environment Waikato Environment Committee heard an update on the project, which is a joint effort between Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board and Environment Waikato with support from Taupo District Council, Department of Conservation, Lakes and Waterways Action Group and Crown Research Institutes.

Project Manager Dr Charlotte Severne said the Forum was a way of getting everyone together to have a hand in developing a strategy for the Lake, due out in July next year. Of the 12 values stated in the Taupo-nui-a-tia project, three were also included in Environment Waikato’s strategy for the Lake.

The project had been a great deal more work than anyone had realised when it began, but it was essential to have the project’s actions continuing at the end of the three year period, she said.

Its vision is based on the values and aspirations of Ngati Tuwharetoa and the wider community, supporting an integrated approach to sustainable development for Lake Taupo’s catchment incorporating environmental, social, cultural and economic issues.

Science Co-ordinator Dr Beat Huser said the project may serve as a model leading the way for the new community-based planning process in partnership with Maori authorities and local and Central Government agencies, as signalled in the new Local Government Act. Its initial stages had focused on gathering and analysing information, including community and iwi values, scientific information and risks to those values.

The 2020 Forum has been established to effectively involve the community and work with the project team and the project’s joint management group.

“The Forum is an ideal way to engage and get buy-in from many stakeholders in the Lake Taupo catchment,” he said. About 30 invitations had been sent to organisations from all sectors of the Taupo community, with the first meeting held last month.

The Forum would help identify prioritised actions, responsibilities, timelines and targets to protect community values.