From sum­mit to sea

Franklin County News - - FRONT PAGE - STEPH RANGI

Climb­ing to the sum­mit of Mt Ruapehu only to fol­low the wa­ter stream back down seems like a crazy idea - but it’s one idea a group of men are bring­ing to re­al­ity.

The idea of fol­low­ing the Waikato River from ‘sum­mit to sea’ is the brain­child of Trent Hicks, 27, of Pukekohe.

Hav­ing a good un­der­stand­ing of Port Waikato, Hicks wanted to track the wa­ter back to the source and see what the qual­ity of the wa­ter was like.

Hicks re­cruited four oth­ers, friends Mat Pi­aggi, Dan Kelly, Benn Hanns and Nick Blazey to join the ’Down­stream’ project - a col­lec­tive mis­sion ‘‘to know the land, to meet and learn from its peo­ple, to ex­pe­ri­ence, doc­u­ment and share all we find along the way’’.

Wa­ter qual­ity has con­sis­tently been iden­ti­fied as the top is­sue for the peo­ple of the Waikato re­gion for the past two decades.

Last year, the Healthy Rivers/ Wai Ora: Pro­posed Waikato Re­gional Plan Change 1 was in­tro­duced and it is the bold re­sponse to ad­dress­ing the com­plex is­sue of wa­ter qual­ity fac­ing the Waipa and Waikato rivers.

The from Sum­mit to Sea ad­ven­ture is a way for the five men to help raise aware­ness over wa­ter qual­ity.

‘‘Wa­ter qual­ity is a big is­sue in New Zealand at the mo­ment,’’ Pi­aggi said.

‘‘This re­gion has a huge his­toric con­text and in a way fresh wa­ter qual­ity sparked it.’’

Their ad­ven­ture started two weeks ago when they walked up Mt Ruapehu to the Man­ga­toe­toe Glacier.

While they will be trav­el­ling by foot for some of their jour­ney, most of it will be in a kayak.

From there, they fol­lowed its wa­ter down, head­ing east to where it met the Ton­gariro River.

Con­tin­u­ing on foot, they fol­lowed the river north to its en­try point near Tu­rangi, at Lake Taupo.

‘‘It’s been great so far. We’ve been cut­ting our own path as it’s not some­thing that’s clear cut,’’ Kelly said.

Through­out their jour­ney, they’ve been stop­ping and chat­ting with the lo­cals, get­ting their thoughts on the wa­ter qual­ity.

‘‘We aren’t re­ally try­ing to do any­thing in par­tic­u­lar with this trip but we have been meet­ing and in­ter­view­ing some of the char­ac­ters along the way,’’ Kelly said.

‘‘We are want­ing to share that and ex­pe­ri­ence that.’’

They don’t ex­pect to fin­ish their trip for an­other week and half and now they are mak­ing their way to the end goal of reach­ing Port Waikato.

Fol­low their progress on down­stream­pro­ject.com

Pukekohe’s Trent Hicks leads the group over the Ton­gariro Cross­ing.

The Down­stream team Benn Hannes, Mat Pi­aggi, Dan Kelly, Nick Blazey and Trent Hicks.

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