Chairing the Waimakariri Zone Committee over the last two years has been one of the hardest, yet most rewarding challenges outgoing chair Dave Ashby has ever faced.

Ashby, a dairy farmer and consultant who has been a committee member for seven years, says leading the committee during the Zone implementation Programme process was an all-consuming task.

"I learned so much about science, working with different types of people and the process of reaching a decision through consensus. To be honest, it's been really tough and is one of the hardest things I have ever done".

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When Ashby first joined the committee seven years ago, he approached the role with some degree of trepidation.

"I wear a number of different hats as a farmer, a business owner and I am also a keen environmentalist. The situation we're in now with our waterways has happened over many decades and I knew that even though it would take up nearly all of my time, it was something I had to do".

He recalled being presented with a stack of bulging folders to read over the summer before starting with the zone committee and feeling a bit overwhelmed at the first few meetings.

"There's so much to learn from a scientific point of view so in the beginning I just tried to absorb as much of it as I could and then moved forward from there".

Ashby was proud of what the zone committee had achieved through its recommendations which have helped form the basis for part of proposed Plan Change 7 to the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan.

Submissions on this plan change have just closed.

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"It's a real credit to the committee that although we're from different backgrounds and have a wide range of views we've come up with recommendations that will improve our waterways. It won't happen right away, but it is a step in the right direction.


"We devoted so many hours and put the rest of our lives on hold to do something that we hope will benefit the wider community.

"To be honest, it's going to be really hard on farmers and I hope that the broader public will support us as we work together to clean up our streams and rivers".

Ashby will remain on the committee as a community member, while Michael Blackwell takes up the role of chair, with Cam Henderson as deputy chair.

He said it's an exciting time for the committee as they work on catchment management plans and take visible action to improve Waimakariri's waterways.

"We're looking forward to working together with the wider community on local projects to enhance biodiversity, streams and rivers. The most important thing is that we all recognise the problem and take joint action to fix it".