Ban intensive commercial rafting on New Zealand's heritage dry-fly rivers

Ban intensive commercial rafting on New Zealand's heritage dry-fly rivers

15 September 2019
Petition to
Southland District Council (Marcus Roy) and 5 others
Signatures: 5,995Next goal: 7,500
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Why this petition matters

Started by NZ Southern Rivers

Pressure from raft-bound tourists threatens peace on Southland rivers

A proposal to guide over 16K anglers a year on inflatable rafts on Southland rivers threatens the world’s finest dry-fly fishing for wild brown trout.

Phillip Joostens of Mataura has lodged an application with Southland and Gore district councils to launch up to three rafts with 7 passengers each, twice a day, on each of the six long beats he wants to guide on the Mataura, Waikaia and Oreti rivers. 

This proposal would allow Mr Joostens to exclusively capture the six beats he proposes guiding, ruining the experience for local and international anglers and the 53 guides who work these rivers. Despite the major impacts on angling amenity and the economic benefits from existing ecotourism, Southland District Council planner Marcus Roy won’t guarantee the public’s right for notification.  Nor has the council conducted studies on the proposal's environmental, amenity, landscape or economic impacts.

“Just because you think you’re an affected party doesn’t mean you are nor does it mean you deserve to be notified,” said Mr Roy. According to Mr Roy, when the National Party weakened notification components in the Resource Management Act in 2017, these changes restricted who deserves to be notified as affected parties.

At a time when local groups like Kiwi Anglers First say area rivers are under too much pressure, and the government and the professional fishing guides’ association are discussing the idea of establishing a finite number of licenses for fishing guides, this proposal would give Mr Joostens the legal right to increase pressure on the Waikaia, a small river, by 50 percent, and on the Mataura by 34 percent.

This is the last straw in the way local councils have long mismanaged three area rivers with National Water Conservation Orders. For decades the regional councils have over-allocated water consents and allowed dairy pollution to threaten the health of the Mataura and Waikaia. The Gore District Council last year dumped toxic algae into the Mataura River after the new Mataura Valley Milk plant went on line. As a result, the health of the river below Gore has deteriorated, mayfly populations have crashed, and anglers have lost recreational amenity on the middle to lower river.

If you love these rivers, please write the local councils below and ask them to notify on the public and request reports on the proposal's major impacts on amenity, landscape, trout and economic benefits of the fisheries. 

You do not need to be a New Zealand citizen for the right to be notified as an "affected party" under the Resource Management Act.  In fact, international visitors' voices have special weight because they spend so much time and money traveling to fish these waters.

If you've fished these rivers in the past, please give something back by protecting them for future generations.

Marcus Roy, at Southland District Council

Dean Balkin, at the Gore District Council
03-209 0330

Contact Southland Fish and Game and demand they preserve the angling heritage on Southland's best dry-fly rivers by banning commercial rafting on small to medium size waters like the Mataura, Waikaia and Oreti.  This is an ideal time to ask Fish and Game to help argue the case for amending district plans to ban commercial rafting on small to medium size rivers.

Zane Moss or Jacob Smyth


Please also write the appropriate parliamentary ministers about your opposition to this proposal. The current government plans to overturn many of the 2017 changes to public notification requirements of the RMA. But this RMA reform wouldn’t kick in until later in 2020. Ask Minister Parker for a parliamentary investigation into the regional councils’ mismanagement of Gore-area rivers. Parliament is already investigating the Otago Regional Council’s inability to handling water consents on Otago rivers.

Hon. David Parker
Minister of Environment and Attorney General

Please also ask Minister Sage to review the Department of Conservation’s tentative approval of this proposal and demand that any other concessions that would increase guiding pressure on New Zealand rivers be subject to public notification.

Hon. Eugenie Sage
Minister of Conservation

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Signatures: 5,995Next goal: 7,500
Support now

Decision makers

  • Southland District CouncilMarcus Roy
  • Gore District CouncilDean Balkin
  • Southland Fish and GameJacob Smyth and Zane Moss
  • Department of ConservationHon Eugenie Sage
  • Ministry for the EnvironmentHon David Parker