Reflections on Water - Our water Our vote

04 Jun 2010

The Our Water Our Vote coalition are planning an event in Cathedral Square on Sunday 13th June to show their dislike for the weakening of protection for some of the country’s most outstanding rivers, as a result of the recent implementation of the “ECAN Act” which was rushed through the House under urgency two months ago.

The event signals a growing unease by the people of Canterbury at having lost their right to be represented by democratically elected councillors, who were sacked by the Government and replaced by government-appointed commissioners.

At the same time special laws specific to Canterbury were introduced that severely weaken Water Conservation Orders (the river-equivalent of National Parks), remove the public’s right of appeal over water plans and give the Minister of the Environment powers to suspend the Resource Management Act if it gets in the way of development.

“The ECAN Act, and the haste with which it was pushed through was an underarm bowl against the people of Canterbury,” said Our Water Our Vote member Chris Todd.

The key driver behind the ECAN legislation was found to be accelerating the development of large scale water storage and irrigation projects based on the Rakaia and Hurunui Rivers, according to documents released to Forest and Bird under the Official Information Act.

“These rivers are recognised as being ‘nationally outstanding’, and with a Water Conservation Order to protect the Rakaia, and one pending on the Hurunui, the Government moved unilaterally to erode this protection,” Mr Todd said.

“We are calling on all concerned citizens in Canterbury to join us on June 13th to reflect on the loss of the democratic and legal protections of our rivers.”

The Reflections on Water event is being held outside Christchurch Cathedral at 3pm. Members of the public are encouraged to gather in the square from 3pm to hear a range of passionate speakers, singers and poets and to help build a cairn made of river boulders as a daily reminder of their concerns.