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Hastings Leader - 2021-11-24

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Use of public land under review

PĀ MAI TŌ REO

Patrick O’Sullivan — Local Focus

‘Frisky” cattle are part of an upcoming review by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council of how it manages the use of its 1600 hectares. The land is primarily for flood control, a key focus for the council, but many different groups make use of it. River Schemes team leader Antony Rewcastle said users included rifle clubs, motorcyclists, dog walkers, horse riders, anglers and whitebaiters. The council will be asking for public feedback on how the land is used outside of flood control. “It’s quite an exciting phase for the rivers that we’re going to go through a public-use-of-rivers review and try to just look at those activities. “It’s actually quite a complex process, managing all those various activities and making sure they’re all compatible.” The land also hosts some commercial activities including beekeeping, orcharding and grazing. Rewcastle said grazing cattle actively supported the maintenance of the flood-control infrastructure. “We’ve got a number of grazing leases. That’s 175 across Hawke’s Bay, across 1600 hectares. “A lot of them are long-standing arrangements as some benefit to the regional council in terms of maintenance of the river beams, maintaining that grass cover, reducing weeds.” Despite cycle path gates featuring a sign telling people to be aware of “frisky cows” on the rural pathway — with a drawing of a person being bunted into the air by a cow while cursing — Rewcastle said he was unaware of any incidents. “I know some of the trail users are not comfortable or experienced around cattle,” he said. “They can be intimidated by the animals and that’s part of the review, where we’re looking to see whether it’s appropriate that the cattle share those areas with the cyclists.” Cowpats were cleared by the council before major events using the cycle paths, such as the Hawke’s Bay Marathon. “It’s normally just a brush on the surface to make them look their best.” “We minimise the size of the cattle as well — we try to avoid any damage to the stopbanks.” He said Hawke’s Bay Trails had lifted awareness of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council flood-control land. “The cycle paths have been a great success in Hawke’s Bay since first being built about 2012 and we’re getting a lot of outside tourists coming in. “But overall, the rivers are becoming more visible to the public and hopefully much more valued as well.”

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