Being responsible for a region's natural resources is not always a walk in the park, something Horizons Regional Council chair, Bruce Gordon knows all too well.

"The biggest environmental issue the council is facing is water quality," he said.

The Horizons Region stretches from Horowhenua across Manawatū, Whanganui, Tararua and up to Ruapehu.

It's often referred to as the greater Manawatū Whanganui Region and the council's responsibilities include managing natural resources, leading regional land transport planning and public transport, as well as coordinating the region's response to natural disasters.


A hot topic this term is the council's One Plan, which defines how natural resources such as fresh water, air, productive land and natural ecosystems will be looked after by Horizons, local councils and the community.

The plan hit a number of hurdles, particularly around farmers' consents and nutrient leaching, but the council is now working to move forward.

"We've got to embark on a journey to bring together Fish and Game and the Environmental Defence Society in a way in which we can move forward so our farmers can have certainty in the future of their farming practices," Gordon said.

"It's not that we've come a long way on the issue of imprvoing water quality. It's about public perception.

"So Horizons has put in 80 swim-spot monitoring [programmes], 160 gauges for measuring water quality, water quantity and the like.

"We've got to take our public on a journey with us now to show them not to be afraid of our water."

As were many other regional chairs and mayors, Gordon was impressed by the new central government.

"Phil Twyford, Minister of Transport, has been extremely accessible to us over the issues of the [Manawatu] gorge.


"Minister [David] Parker has come in and taken an interest in our issues around the One Plan and been exceptionally encouraging.

"And we've had Minister Shane Jones here looking at development for our region. So honestly, we couldn't have asked for a better start with the new government."

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