New Kai Iwi Lakes bylaw adopted

26 Oct 2017

A new bylaw governing the future management of water-based activities at the iconic Kai Iwi Lakes has been formally adopted by the Northland Regional Council (NRC).

The Navigation Safety Bylaw for Kai Iwi Lakes was drafted by the regional council and sets rules for keeping people safe in and on the water there.  It takes effect on Wednesday 01 November 

It’s designed to support and enable the Kai Iwi Lakes (Taharoa Domain) Reserve Management Plan, adopted by Kaipara District Council (KDC) 12 months ago, which sets out how the lakes will be managed and developed over the next decade.

Regional council chairman Bill Shepherd says the NRC bylaw aims to enable the many different water-based uses of Kai Iwi Lakes – such as swimming, boating, waterskiing, jetskiing, kayaking and board sports – in as safe and sustainable way as possible.  (The Kaipara District Council is considering how best to manage land-based activities.)

Chairman Shepherd says the regional council consulted widely on its new bylaw, both informally (over last summer) and formally before a public hearing held Thursday, 7 September.

A deliberations hearing was held in Dargaville Monday, 25 September with a panel of three regional councillors –  Penny Smart, Paul Dimery and Rick Stolwerk – considering submissions and making a suite of recommendations which went to the full council to be formally adopted Tuesday, 24 October.

During the submission and hearings process, council staff modified a map of the lakes setting out access lanes for water skiing, swimming areas and areas for 5-knot restrictions.  The aim, in consultation with Regional Harbourmaster Jim Lyle, was to provide a safe environment that can be enjoyed by as many people as possible.

The hearings panel noted that a considerable number of submissions touched on points outside of both the navigational safety bylaw and the regional council’s control, including fishing, the launch ramps provided, and limits of access to Lakes Waikare and Kai Iwi for powered vessels.

(These matters are all decided by the Taharoa Domain Governance Committee which has set the strategic direction for the development of the Taharoa Domain for many years, alongside iwi, lake users and the community.  The Kaipara District Council administers and co-governs the Kai Iwi Lakes (Taharoa Domain) Recreation Reserve with Te Roroa and Te Kuihi through this committee.)

Chairman Shepherd says the main discussion points dealt with by the NRC hearings panel were around proposed permit charges for power-driven vessels, the safe distance from shore where the 5-knot speed limit should apply and the number of ski access lanes being provided.

“The panel accepted council staff recommendations to drop the charges and increase the number of access lanes to four and this was confirmed by full council at its monthly meeting in Whangarei this week.  However, debate over appropriate speed limits at the lakes has now triggered another round of public consultation.”

Chairman Shepherd says this is because many submitters suggested a 5-knot speed limit be reduced to 100 metres from shore right around the lakes (instead of the usual 200m) however, legally a reduction like this requires formal approval from the Director of Maritime NZ.

With that in mind, the panel had recommended further public consultation on the reduced 100m 5 knot proposal, which is required before an application to the Director can be made.

“The full council this week agreed, with that further consultation now likely to take place over summer.”

Chairman Shepherd says it’s important to note that existing rules restricting vessel speeds to 5 knots within 200 metres of shore at the lakes will remain in place in the interim.