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Restore Rotoroa - do everything possible

Meeting 13th March 2018 at the Hamilton Yacht Clubrooms 5.30pm

An interested group of about thirty-five local people turned up to listen to a number of speakers talking about the quality of the water and other issues concerning Lake Rotoroa, Hamilton’s lake. There were some representatives from the Hamilton City Council amongst those attending which was organised by the community group RESTORE with support from Go Eco.

The speakers were:

Wiremu Puke, who spoke about the whakapapa of the lake, and how it was an important food and product source for pre-European Maori. Tuna (eels), koura (fresh water crayfish) and kaeo (fresh water mussels) were harvested. Surrounding the lake were stands of kauri, tawa, and kahikatea with rich bird life. Raupo (bullrush) thrived which was used for thatching of roofs and walls of whare (houses). Innes Common was a large wetland that helped sustain the wellbeing of the lake.      

Jeff Taylor, who outlined some previous attempts to deal with nuisance weeds in the lake. Firstly the dumping of Penite Six in 1959, which has left traces of arsenic in the lake bed to this day, and then helicopter spraying of diquat in the 1970s which resulted in spray drift over residential areas, and prompted complaints from Hamilton citizens. He listed a number of other attempts to deal with the problem, some not successful, others moderately so. 

Eloise Ryan from Waikato Regional Council advised of the WRC Lake Water Quality Investigation. Testing for e-coli ever a period from August 2016 to June 2107 had shown that levels had exceeded guidelines for contact recreation about 50% of the time. Study is now underway of faecal source tracking using DNA extracted from water samples taken bi-weekly at the Cafe, Scooter Bay and the Yacht Club. Other water testing for nutrients, metals, general bacteria and of the sediment is also being done.

Felicity Beadle and Karen O’Meeghan, local residents, spoke of their concern that recent HCC Lake Management plans have not given water quality the attention or resources it deserves. They have co-ordinated a group of residents, the Resident’s Advocacy Group, on a data base to keep them aware of progress with any HCC programs that affect the lake. Their hope is that HCC and the local lake community will offer support towards the restoration of the lake.

David Menkes is a medical tutor at Waikato Hospital who came to live by the lake, and was concerned when he realised how poor the water quality is. This inspired him to form the group RESTORE a few years ago. This group has the target of making the lake swimmable again as it was until the mid 1960s. Some of those present at the meeting could remember doing just that in their youth!

The general consensus of those present was that everything possible should be done to improve the water quality of this recreational jewel of Hamilton. What other city can boast such a facility less than one kilometre from its city centre? 

Jeff Taylor March 2018  



 

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