Kaituna River closures to save lives

By Te Ao - Māori News

Closing the Kaituna River to recreational users is the only option for saving lives according to the regional harbourmaster, following two deaths and one near miss.

It's known as the 'Awesome, Gnarly and Smokey' gorge and a magnet for thrill-seekers but it has its challenges.
  
Some Te Arawa community leaders have been voicing their concerns about the dangers of the river and its gorges.

But after two deaths and at least one near miss on the lower Kaituna River, the closure is an effort to prevent further tragedy and avoid risking another death.

The Regional Harbourmaster says he intends to close the lower gorges to recreational users from 1 May 2019 because the three gorge sections contain a number of serious hazards, including submerged logs.

Both previous fatalities involved experienced kayakers.

Less-experienced kayakers can also access the area, putting themselves and others including search and rescue operations in serious danger.

A hui will be held with all stakeholders, including iwi, landowners and recreational river users, before the closure date.

However, the closure will not affect existing commercial white-water rafting and other recreational activities outside the area. 

The closure will be incorporated into the next regional navigation safety bylaw review which will also provide an opportunity for further public input.