Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mokihinui River - Threatened!!!

I was fortunate enough to paddle the Mokihinui River this past summer with a great group of friends. What I didn't know at the time was that plans of damming this river were already under way. Now that the proposal has been publicized, the day I spent on that river has become much more meaningful to me. The following are some lighthearted thoughts and images from that day with my new found perspective...

Where land meets sea is often a most beautiful thing, but un-zipping my tent to such beauty after driving all night and then settling for "just camping here off the road" was quite divine.

"...Here he comes and he's gone again, Pretty lady ain't got no friend till the, Candy Man comes around again..." To bad they don't have candy here in NZ...they call 'em lollies instead! Sometimes I like to imagine a helicopter carrying a net full of kayaks is actually the Candy Man dropping off the sweets for all the wee kiddly winks! I guess in some ways, it is!

In that case may I present to you...The Candy Man! (Photo by Rach)

If rivers are the souls of this earth, why would we want to drown them?

Kids in a candy shop? Children's expressions, when they get to a candy shop and are seconds from indulging, are amazingly similar to those they have when they leave the same shop buzzing on their sugar high. Now just imagine if you took away their candy shop! Our group of Rach, Wheels, Cheese and I...ready to enjoy some candy.

Or was it just the helicopter fumes?

Question: What's sweeter...Candy or Cheese? I guess that depends if you're lactose intolerant or if you're diabetic...or maybe it doesn't.

I'd like to Thank this man, Mr. Gareth Wheeler, for making this trip on the Mokihinui happen for me! Legend!!!

The motivation for paddling a river can vary from one person to another, even within a group. While some might seek the adventure and challenge of the rapids, others enjoy a river valley's beauty and the animals within it. Rach here, I reckon is more concerned with the aims first mentioned.

One great component to whitewater is that newer boaters can get the same stoke on class III that a more experienced boater gets on class V. Having been a heli-virgin a week or so before this trip I could easily relate to the emotions running through Rach's world, even though the consequences of the river were different than my first heli-trip. Here we have Wheels doing what he does best, helping out a friend in need.

Wheels again, perhaps demonstrating his second best skill...finding effortlessly smooth lines down a river!

It's hard to describe the beauty of the Mokihinui River valley...the geology, the water, the animals, the history...it's gorgeous to many people in many ways. Maybe just the fact that it has been ranked 7th in a New Zealand database of water bodies of national importance for its natural values says something. So is it not selfish for one person to find such a valuable river beautiful for its potential energy value, therefore eliminating its beauty to others?

You are about to paddle into the rapid...who would you fly in, and what song would be played over the roar?

Wheels being hit with mind bullets...Dam this? You've got to be kidding!!!

As an overseas visitor to New Zealand who values waterways, I am strongly opposed to this "renewable energy" proposal. (A rant about how damming rivers is NOT renewable could be written at this time, but I'll let my pictures and what I've already said speak on that issue.) While I completely understand that there is always two sides to any argument, (in this case lower energy costs being the most appealing to locals in favor of the dam) I do not see how such an environmentally devastating proposal is the answer in this particular case. Would solar or wind power not provide the same lower energy costs with more sustainability? More information on the proposal and how you can SAVE THE MOKIHINUI can be found at http://www.mokihinui.org/ as well as http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/conservation/freshwater/mokihinui.asp. NEW LINK (added Aug. 20th)...NZ Wild Rivers Action Project