Kia ora koutou, friends and supporters of the Save Our Springs campaign
The recommended Water Conservation Order (WCO) for Te Waikoropupū Springs has just been finalised and sent by the Environment Court to the Government. This is a significant step forward in the campaign to protect the Springs. The Recommended Order is publicly available. See the link below.
It’s important to understand that the WCO process is not yet complete. There are fifteen working days in which a legal challenge to the draft can be made; i.e. by the 18th of August. Assuming it is not appealed, it usually goes to Parliamentary Counsel Office for checking; then the Minister for the Environment – assuming he agrees – will recommend to the Governor-General that it be adopted.
One exciting part of the recommended draft is that the Court has officially accepted SOS’s spiritual evidence. Marion Sanson, from our Committee, and I brought evidence that Te Waikoropupū Springs have ‘Outstanding Spiritual Characteristics’ for Pākehā (non-Māori). Ngāti Tama had already proven that the Springs have ‘Outstanding Spiritual Characteristics’ for the Māori people. This means it has now been legally proven that Te Waikoropupū Springs have ‘Outstanding Spiritual Characteristics’ for all visitors. This strengthens the grounds for the ongoing protection of the Springs.
We are very grateful to our lawyers Sally Gepp and Catherine Iorns for getting this positive response from the Court. During SOS’s final submissions, Sally asked the Court to formally record their response to our evidence. They have done so. Here is their response (from paragraph 54):
“We accept the evidence of Mr Moran and Ms Sanson on these matters. They explained how they find the Springs to have a sacredness that is unique and spiritually renewing and hence outstanding. In essence, their experience was that the subject waters are extraordinary in those terms. Those are of course personal experiences. Nevertheless, our site visits enabled us to appreciate how the special qualities of the Springs include the way people experience them as spiritually rejuvenating and renewing. It is associated with the vibrancy and purity of the waters in their peaceful setting. We adjudge that the Springs have outstanding spiritual values.”
This is an epic moment for the campaign. It is the first time the Environment Court has accepted a waterway as having ‘Outstanding Spiritual Characteristics.’ It thus creates legal precedence. I’m especially happy for the Mohua (Golden Bay) community who can now say their local springs have been legally acknowledged as having ‘Outstanding Spiritual Characteristics;’ i.e. that they can be experienced as Sacred.
I will provide further thoughts on the WCO in late August around the time of our AGM after I have received the reflections of our legal team. The essential thing to understand is that the Court has identified intensive dairy farming as the primary cause of the rising nitrate levels at the Springs. The Order will require the Tasman District Council to make a practical plan, over 15 years, to bring nitrate levels down to 0.41 mg/l (or lower) and to keep them there. This is very good news.
The Recommended Order (see link below) contains 314 pages of dense science and law, which explain how the Court came up with its draft. Not everyone will be interested. If you wish to simply read the Water Conservation Order itself, you will find it in Annexure 1, on page 74.
We thank every one of you for your support in getting this far. It’s been a huge effort. It’s great to have the hopeful light of this exciting news shining at this wintery time of the year.
Ngā mihi nui
Kevin Moran, Coordinator SOS
Marion Sanson, Legal support SOS