Clive River's famous waka tours could soon be back in business thanks to some returning help, but concerns remain because the river is plagued by sediment issues.
Jim Edwards and wife Marie are teaming back up with Renaissance Tours to bring cruise ship passengers on waka tours down the Clive River.
"We have had a few issues the last couple of years with the previous group we were using and after we pulled the waka out back in April we didn't think we would be back in Clive until Tony contacted us," Edwards said.
Renaissance Tours Managing Director Tony Petrie said they wanted to get back involved in the project, after having to leave it a few years ago due to financial reasons, because of its cultural importance to tourists.
"When tourists come to New Zealand they don't want to go to something like Disneyland, they come here because they want to see the culture and environment and these waka tours do just that," Petrie said.
MSC Cruise, a Swiss global cruise line, works alongside Renaissance Tours, which help organise attractions for tourists to see when the ships come to Napier.
"This kind of cultural experience is what many visitors from Europe want to see and be a part of because it is something rare and special to New Zealand," MSC Cruise representative Shanna Creola said.
"Many people use the river, not only us, and the council not only the regional council but both Napier and Hastings need to all put their heads together to work something out," said Edwards.
HBRC Group Manager for Asset Management Chris Dolley said that at the moment dredging was the only feasible solution to the problem.
"The river network was altered in the 1960s to divert the Ngararoro River to prevent flooding of the Clive area," Dolley said.
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"Although this engineering work was successful in protecting Clive and the surrounding areas it has resulted in a buildup of sediment in the Clive River.
"This sediment is obviously coming down the rivers from the catchment areas."
The Clive River is dredged, on average, once every 10 years, and it was last done in 2007, with the next dredging scheduled for early next year and takes up to 10 weeks to complete.
Each time it costs about $1 million.
He said that the Hawke's Bay Regional Council was working with the community to reduce the volume of sediment that ends up in the region's rivers.
"We have assisted Jim Edwards in the past through maintaining the berthing area for his waka. There are of course a wide range of users of the river all with their own specific requirements," Dolley said.
"All users of the river want to see the sediment levels reduced, however, we want to ensure through the preliminary stages of this project that cultural, ecological and environmental aspects of the projects are carefully considered."
The waka, called Nga Tukemata o Kahungunu, is the only fully carved war waka used regularly in New Zealand.
It is planned to get the waka back in the water by March to catch the end of the cruise season but a full schedule is set for the 2020/2021 season.