Rethinking how rivers run

Forest & Bird’s freshwater advocate Tom Kay, in front of the collasped Redclyffe Bridge near Hastings, will discuss approaches to river management and flood protection at a free community event in Matakana next month.

Freshwater advocate Tom Kay will talk about how river management has worsened the impacts of flooding and degraded the health of many NZ rivers when he addresses a meeting in Matakana on December 4.

The meeting is being hosted by Friends of Awa Matakanakana (FOAM) and Forest & Bird Warkworth Area, who have invited Kay to discuss the impacts of flood protection engineering on rivers and communities.

“Many of our stopbanks and other flood mitigation infrastructure needs expensive improvements to cope with this increased risk to communities,” Kay says.

“Ironically, the way these defences are currently constructed can actually increase the risk of flooding during large rainfall events.”

Landowners and residents in Matakana, Warkworth and greater Mahurangi community are invited to attend and share their experiences and thoughts about Awa Matakanakana and other rivers with Kay.

“Working with nature to avoid disasters, and making room for rivers and other nature-based solutions can help us out of the problems we’ve engineered,” Kay says.

“Recent extreme weather, including Cyclone Gabrielle, has highlighted the vulnerability of our communities to flooding and brought into question our approach to river management and flood protection.”

Kay will discuss how this is made worse by the loss of wetlands and forests, and outline a new way of thinking about building resilience to climate change.

The meeting will be held in the Matakana Hall on Monday, December 4, starting at 7pm. The event is free but attendees are asked to reserve a seat at Making Room for Rivers at