New Zealand’s image is on the line as one of our most Instagram-famous locations is nearing the deadline for submissions on its protection.
Te Waikoropupū Springs is renowned for having some of the clearest water in the world, and being an excellent place for a selfie, but the ecology that makes it so special is under threat.
“The Springs are already reaching their limits, and may face ecological collapse due to increasing irrigation, potential mining development in the area, and more nitrates running into the ground water,” says Forest & Bird regional manager Debs Martin.
“It’s vitally important New Zealanders show their support for Te Waikoropupū Springs by submitting on an application for a Water Conservation Order, the highest form of protection that can be placed over a water body in New Zealand.”
Forest & Bird has set up a webpage to make it easy for individuals to submit to the Environmental Protection Authority.
The application for a Water Conservation Order was made last year by Ngāti Tama Ki Te Waipounamu Trust and Golden Bay resident Andrew Yuill. A Special Tribunal will consider the matter at a public hearing in April.
“Nitrate levels in the Springs are already at their ecological limits,” says Ms Martin.
“With the Tasman District Council’s Freshwater and Land Advisory Group proposing an increase in the area of irrigated land up catchment, and the potential for mining in the area, Te Waikoropupū Springs’ clarity and purity could easily be destroyed."
“The water in the Springs is cleaned by tiny creatures on its 2–10 year journey through underground aquifers. This is a finely balanced relationship; we don’t know how much more disruption it can take.”
“We’ll be arguing for an extension of the Water Conservation Order right up into Kahurangi National Park, as well as protection of minimum water flows in the aquifers. Some aquifers are within metres of the surface and may be subject to collapse if the pressure of the water is no longer there."
“But this process is not all about technical details. The Hearing Committee needs to hear from individuals too. These are the Southern Hemisphere’s largest freshwater springs, and we know New Zealanders care about this place. We’ve already had hundreds of fantastic submissions describing Te Waikoropupū Springs as awe-inspiring, unique, or a jewel of a place."
“Unfortunately, many people still don’t realise Te Waikoropupū Springs are under threat.”