Social and cultural dimensions
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council is the regional government and planning organization that retains jurisdiction over all twelve Rotorua lakes. The Local Government Act 2002 set out the purpose of Local Government in New Zealand which outlines the responsibility of regional government, in New Zealand, to facilitate planning on a larger scale, ensuring that the different districts and municipalities are acting synergistically. Accordingly, the council is responsible for six communities, totaling 267,700 people, 21,836 square kilometres of land and sea, two harbours, three mountains, five estuaries, and twelve lakes (Bay of Plenty Regional Council, 2014).
The second jurisdiction of government, below regional, is the Rotorua municipality and the Rotorua District Council. Together with the Te Arawa Trust, these are the governing bodies responsible for all Te Arawa lakes, including Rotorua. Individually they are responsible for activities that generally affect the day to day activities of citizens; This includes local utility infrastructure, transportation, recreation, culture, public health, and planning of land use (Bay of Plenty Regional Council, 2014).One of the major roles is in the development of joint strategies with partners is to work on major issues which need several parties acting in a coordinated way, specifically including a Strategy for the Lakes of the Rotorua district (Bay of Plenty Regional Council, 2014).
The Rotorua Lakes Strategy Group was set up under the ‘Local Government Act 2002’ and is the overarching coordinated management group for the lakes. The group is composed of two representatives from each of the following bodies: Te Arawa Lakes Trust, Rotorua District Council, Environment Bay of Plenty (regional district), and a representative from the ministry of the environment. Each month, operational decisions are made by the ‘Partnership Steering Group (Te Arawa Lakes Trust, 2014).
The funding for the group emanates from the ministry of the environment, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Rotorua District Council (Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme, 2014). The $900,000 floating wetland initiative led by this organization received one-time funding from The Bay of Plenty Regional Council ($225,000 with an additional $225,000 funding from the Crown via the Rotorua Lakes Funding Deed) and the Rotorua Lakes/ District Council's ($450,000) (Rotorua District Council, 2014).
On 18 December 2004, the Crown and Te Arawa signed a Deed of Settlement for Te Arawa Historical Claims and Remaining Annuity Issues over 14 lakes in the region, including Rotorua / Rotorua-nui-a Kahumatamomoe. The settlement is made up of a Redress package consisting of financial redress and annuity resources, as well as the acknowledgements and apology given by the Crown to Te Arawa. The Cultural Redress recognizes Te Arawa traditions, history, culture and spiritual associations with the lakes, and a transfer of 13 lake beds to the Te Arawa people (Te Arawa Lakes Trust, 2014).
The management scheme uses scientific as well as social guidelines to determine what actions need to be taken regarding the sustainability of the lakes. The scientific indicators include the nutrient status of the lakes together with their macrophyte and algal conditions. The social indicators include land development intensity, introduction of invasive weeds, lake use intensity and the concerns of lakeside residents. The report highlights the importance of extensive consultation and education with the locals, which is addressed in part by Annual meetings of the Lakes Water Quality Society in Rotorua. The management group has emphasised that “Educating the District farmers is particularly important because nutrient reduction from farms is essential and, in most instances, not mandatory but voluntary” (Noel Burns, John McIntosh & Paul Scholes, 2009).
The social dimension of the project, outside of multi-level governmental organization, includes primarily the farming surrounding the lakes. The Allen Family, for example, operate their dairy farm, which includes 179 Hectares and 350 cows with sustainability in mind. Their main efforts for lake restoration have included the retirement of wetland areas and vulnerable underground springs, totaling 11 hectares. Essentially replacing pasture with a variety of trees, they have slowed erosion, protected spring and lake water quality and created bird habitat. Beyond this, they operate an effluent sump and travelling irrigator in order to reduce fertilizer use and deposits (Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme, 2014).
The floating wetland project is a combined effort of the actors that make up the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme. This project is only part of the overall restoration efforts led by the Programme and to be successful in the long run, involves actives seemingly unrelated to the wetland such as community and industry engagement and education. The Rotorua FTW however, provides a novel opportunity which engages local citizens in environmental awareness. They are constantly reminded of the purpose of the wetland, to deal with their excess waste, as well as face with understanding the balance of nature, and novel ecosystems.
Logo; Te Arawa Lakes Trust represents the interests of the indigenous people’s of NZ.
Logo; Joint partnership of the Rotorua District Council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Te Arawa Lakes Trust that is responsible for improving and protecting regional water quality.