Foxton, a once thriving Manawatu River-side town is calling on the Government to help get its flow back.

The Manawatu River Loop was once an important gateway to the Manawatu region and the Foxton Port was best known for its flax trade and beef exports. Its wharf housed up to 100 boats at one time.

But all that changed in 1942 when the Government was installing the Whirokino Cut as part of a flood control scheme and an actual flood occurred. The water took the path of the new cut, bypassing the loop and cut off its flow.

The Government has twice accepted responsibility for events in 1949 and 1953, but has done nothing to fix it.


Today it is a health hazard that has left Foxton residents land locked for decades, but the small town's residents are determined to do something about it.

"Now you would not eat anything out of this river. It would eat you if you are willing to dive in there," said Robin Hapi of Save Our River Trust.

"When we were kids this part here [on the river] was quite a hive of activity. We would come down here and swim in our river.

"We would fish mainly herrings, now and again you would get an eel and you would take them home and be very proud of what you got," he said.

Now after more than 70 years of waiting for the loop to flow again, the Save Our River Trust is calling for the government to step in.

"The people of Foxton have been the victims of what transpired back in the 1940's, and someone owes Foxton a debt that needs to be repaid," Hapi said.

A new channel connecting the Manawatu River to the loop would cost around $5m, which the trust is calling on the government to pay.

Horizions Regional Council, which governs the waterway, is supporting the clean up, but said the residents need to know it will not be a powerful waterway because of the way it will connect to the river.

Foxton resident Haki Baird was born and bred in the small settlement and has seen first hand the demise of the environment surrounding the loop.

"That part of the river is crying out for help and I think the Government owes it to Foxton to right the wrongs," said Baird who is also a member of the trust.

The district's mayor, Michael Feyen has spent years campaigning for the loop to flow again and said the work is totally doable.

"All we're asking... is to get a new cut put in, get the flow back, and we have tourism that you wouldn't believe," said Feyen.

With a new government now in control, with a focus to clean up Aotearoa's waterways, the pressure is on as Foxton waits for a clear future.

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