Feedlots issue

Wanganui Federated Farmers president Harry Matthews has taken me to task for assuming, without supplying scientific evidence, that feedlots and other intensive cattle-grazing practices next to the Rangitikei River will have an adverse effect on water quality.

He is correct that I have only been able to source patchy historical data regarding the state of the middle and lower Rangitikei.

I am making the assumption that the intensive stocking of cattle photographed last month at several locations beside the Rangitikei would cause large amounts of sediment, pathogens and nutrients to leach through the porous silt there.


Dr Rachel Keedwell, whom I have yet to meet, said: "The impacts of the feedlot activities are significant and long-lasting" and "feedlot effluent is equivalent to a small town".

As she has a PhD in ecology, I tend to believe her.

In the Taranaki region, rather than use the law, Taranaki Regional Council has instigated a voluntary riparian scheme since 1996 and now 99.5 per cent of Taranaki's 1800 private dairy farms have riparian plans covering 14,500km of streambank.

Sure, the width of these strips is rarely the Queen's chain, and the Taranaki ring plane is a more accessible, manageable region than the Rangitikei.

But I suggest to Mr Matthews that acknowledging there is a problem and then creating dialogue with Horizons and landowners -- as well as concerned citizens -- to find a solution to this very real problem is the preferable way forward.


Allan Wrigglesworth is standing for Horizons Regional Council in then local body elections.
Pop-up museum

I popped into the Whanganui Regional Museum's newly opened temporary home in the old post office building on Ridgway -- until recently temporary premises for the Alexander Library -- this morning (September 26).

To say I was mightily impressed would be greatly understating my reaction to the fantastic job they've done curating the displays and making the best use of the surprisingly generous space available.

I can't imagine being able to choose a representative selection from the gazillion items housed in the huge building on Majestic Square, but they've put together a perfect (and surprisingly large) number of pieces ranging from a waka to a Lindauer. It's all about telling Whanganui's stories and that's just what they've done.

They're even continuing their much-loved school holiday programmes at their pop-up museum, which will be their home for up to 18 months. So do check it out.

Mind you, they had a couple of hard acts to follow after both the Sarjeant and the Alex on Queen's Park had to be closed for earthquake strengthening and their collections rehomed. Staff of both those much-loved and important Whanganui institutions made it look easy ... but that's far from the truth, as the huge collections were carefully packed, transported and made accessible once again.

Now the museum's dedicated staff have made it a trifecta.

The council is wisely investing in earthquake-strengthening these remarkable old buildings and has provided the wherewithal for them to relocate to temporary premises. But it's taken the dedication of staff to make it such a positive experience.


Swale site wrong

Heads Rd destruction: It's all about creating a swale that will absorb stormwater in high-energy events that might cause flooding in the local area.

The engineers have it all wrong again, as per Wanganui norm. The flooding during last year's rain event was caused by overflow from the catchment up Mill Rd that flows down through the Titoki wetlands into Rogers St drainage and releases south of Puriri St in an open drain, together with other stormwater from the northeast side of the old dump.

The swale or retention dam should have been created in the area between Puriri St and Hinau St on wasteland for probably less than $200,000.

In the last flooding event, I personally witnessed water up to 200mm deep running out of properties on the north side of Hinau St after the rain had stopped -- from the end of Hinau St right back to Matthews Engineering premises.

The swale in Heads Rd, built at huge cost, will fill in about 15 minutes and thereafter be of no use whatsoever.

Why did the water overflow? Simple, the entrance to the 900mm drain pipe that collects the two open drains and runs to the river under Rogers St was blocked by debris accumulated over time. The WDC had not done any maintenance there in a long time.

I personally cannot believe the waste of ratepayers' assets with the destruction of a very necessary arterial route worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to create this absolute waste swale that would not be necessary if the council had done its job.


Thinking voters

I firstly would like to thank the following people -- Ross Fallen, Matthew Urry and Doreen Hardy -- for attending the Saturday markets prior to the election.

I am responding to Graham Adams' letter (September 20) -- was he writing on behalf of his committee and their members or for his own benefit?

From my point of view, as a retired MP from England, he seems to always do things his own way. The stunt he pulled at a public meeting by putting manure in front of the mayor is very poor standard.

Residents and ratepayers in democracies think for themselves. They know that complex policy issues, like online voting, involve reconciling many legitimate perspectives.

They distrust a simple analysis leading to one recommendation for sign-off. They resent trustworthy research on security issues being ignored.

Officials who believe that they alone possess "the truth" must expect to be challenged by residents and ratepayers who think for themselves. They recognise "the truth" being pumped out by spin doctors.


Retired Labour MP
Surrey, England