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Published: 2001-07-13 00:00:00

Environment Minister Marian Hobbs yesterday joined Tuwharetoa Maori Trust and Environment Waikato to launch an Integrated Sustainable Development Strategy for Lake Taupo.

The Integrated Sustainable Development Strategy for the Lake is an effort to plan a sustainable future for the Lake, which is under threat from increasing amounts of nitrogen flowing from intensifying land uses.

The Minister spent time yesterday with Environment Waikato, Taupo District Council and meeting representatives of the Taupo Lake Care group to discuss Lake water quality issues before heading out onto the Lake with members of the Trust Board for the signing and a first hand look at the water.

She said following the meetings that many farmers felt they were carrying the burden alone of cleaning up the lake, but the problem was everyone’s. Since the Government was a major land owner in the catchment, she work with her colleagues to see how the Government could take a lead and set an example in finding solutions.

“That doesn’t mean providing a basket of money. There will have to be a number of legal, economic and social mechanisms used. We have an agreement that there is a problem and that is a human activity problem.”

“It is very easy for people to say the solution is to dip into the ratepayer or tax payer bag of money but this is more complex than that.

“The problems occurring in Taupo is one of a number of similar cases where we are trying to balance economic development with social and environmental needs. Often throwing money at the problem doesn’t work, but the Government can offer help in other ways. We have access to economists and scientists and can provide leadership in other areas.”

The Government, through the Ministry for the Environment’s Sustainable Management Fund, has already provided initial funding for the project and will be contributing a further half a million dollars over the next three years.

“The farmers need incentives and scientific knowledge. One farmer has told me they don’t want to be thought of as either peasants or environmental vandals. I saw first hand some of the best examples of farm management practices in New Zealand. But we all need to appreciate that the environment of Lake Taupo is sensitive and needs special handling. We have to work on a plan together and involve farmers in solutions.

The Minister spent the afternoon on the Lake talking with Trust Board, District Council and community representatives – and catching a rainbow trout to take back to the capital.