The Waikato River Authority (WRA) and Waikato Regional Council have today signed a new partnership agreement on how they will work together on cleaning up the Waikato River.
The WRA – made up 50/50 of Crown appointees and river iwi representatives came into being last year.
The agreement – signed in Hamilton - sets out how the authority and the council will work together to achieve the WRA’s vision and strategy for restoring the health of the Waikato River, as provided for in the treaty settlement legislation covering the river. That vision and strategy has become part of the council’s regional policy statement.
The WRA’s co-chairs Tukoroirangi Morgan and the Hon John Luxton said the partnership agreement with the council signed today helped further formalise the already close working relationship between the two organisations.
Council chairman Peter Buckley – who also sits on the WRA - said the agreement was in line with the council’s legislated requirement to work with the authority on issues affecting the Waikato River.
“This agreement provides opportunities for the WRA to contribute to Waikato Regional Council decision making processes on river-related issues, and also for shared service arrangements aimed at reducing administration costs associated with restoring the health of the river,” Mr Buckley said.
Besides having responsibility for the vision and strategy for the river, the authority is trustee of the Waikato River Clean-up Trust which will administer a $210 million contestable fund – generally $7 million a year for 30 years – available to iwi, local authorities, landowners, other groups and members of the public for initiatives that contribute to cleaning up the river. The first year of funding will see $6 million allocated for clean up projects, both large and small. Applications for the first round of funding close on 16 December this year. Details on how to apply are available at www.waikatoriver.org.nz.
As well as managing the clean up fund, the authority will also appoint, from its own register of approved commissioners, half the membership of any hearing committees considering river-related resource consents. An independent chair for the relevant hearings committees will be jointly appointed by the authority and the council.