Jet boats whizzed through Hawke's Bay waterways yesterday, giving members of the TANK group a chance to put to theory into practice.

Hosted by the Central Districts' Jet Boat Club, around 30 group members of the group deployed in a 10-boat convoy from the Clive boat ramp yesterday morning, visiting Waitangi Estuary and other sites of interest on Ngaruroro River, going as far upriver as Whanawhana.

The collaborative group are developing a plan change to manage the quality and quantity of water in the region's main river systems.

Organiser Desiree Cull said this was the first field trip of its kind for members.


Through their boat tour, they would be able to see the things they had been discussing in stakeholder meetings over the past couple of years.

"We're learning about water quality and sediment, so we'll get to see it in practice", she said. "We'll also be looking at the whakapapa of the river . . . and historical sites of importance to iwi".

The trip had been suggested as an effective - and much quicker - way for them to experience and understand how the river is valued for a wide range of things like its natural ecosystem, a habitat for fish and birds, recreational uses such as boating, fishing and swimming.

Before setting off, the group heard from council coastal scientist Oli Wade on what to pay attention to - from birdlife, sediment, to thinking about the differences in water colour and quality.

On their trip - which took about five hours - the group also considered low and high flows, stormwater runoff, sediment issues, stock grazing, irrigation, different land uses, and HBRC's environmental monitoring programmes.

Regional council hydrologists and freshwater ecology and coastal scientists were dotted across the boats, providing information to members from the horticulture, and sheep and beef sectors, as well as representatives from Ngati Kahungunu, and Napier City and Hastings District Councils.

One expert, Dr Stephen Swabey, said it would be good for members to see in practice the things they had been discussing.

"There's a wide range of scientists involved in the TANK wet programme and this is an area where all those strands of science come together," he said. "So it's the point just before all the nutrients leave the catchment, and what we're doing is looking at several aspects of that."

The TANK Group meets every six weeks. TANK has a focus on the Tutaekuri, Ahuriri estuary, Ngaruroro and Karamu catchments and is working on making recommendations for a Plan Change expected late in 2017.