Euphoria often takes a while to sink in. Shock. Disbelief. They’re the emotions that come first.
And so with the Mokihinui. A river I know intimately, having been tossed into it from a raft at the whim of a wave.
On Tuesday, Meridian Energy announced its withdrawal from plans to dam the Mokihinui, the mighty West Coast river that carves through a steep sided gorge. Congratulations to them for that decision. Congratulations to us for having had the courage to draw the line in the sand. The one that needed to be drawn.
Damming mainstems of large wild rivers is a technology of old. It doesn’t deserve any place in our 21st century world – it is like severing the spine of a complex and intact being. Not only is the Mokihinui River a wild and untamed river – but the river itself is home to koaro, longfin eel, blue duck. Its edges are bounded by an unusual array of turf vegetation, its steep angular sides home to tall rimu forest, kowhai draping over the edges. Wildlife abounds, including great spotted kiwi, longtailed bats, western weka – and an interesting cross fertilisation of Powelliphanta land snails. That type of ecosystem once lost, is destroyed forever, and can never be replicated elsewhere.
And Meridian’s plans to turn that marvellous intricate river into a reservoir that is turned on and off like a tap was a travesty.
I’ve spent many days in the Mokihinui gorge – rafting the waters, walking the historic pack track, photographing and appreciating the sheer size and complexity of such a place. So take some time to visit. Join in our campaign to put the Mokihinui River and its catchment into Kahurangi National Park and give it the protection it deserves. Ask the Government to allocate the Department of Conservation the funding it needs to protect the kiwi, the blue duck, and the Powelliphanta from predators. Anything less is negligence.
So this evening I raise a glass to the Mokihinui, to the people who committed time and energy to its protection, to my friends who live alongside the river, and to all creatures who reside there. The winner from all this, is truly the river.