Hon­our for lo­cal con­ser­va­tion­ist

The Northern Advocate - - Front Page -

A man who has kayaked and waded the wa­ter­ways of the Hiku­rangi catch­ment has re­ceived royal ac­knowl­edge­ment for his ef­forts to “turn the waka around”.

Mil­lan Ruka, who has cham­pi­oned the need to im­prove fresh wa­ter qual­ity, has been made a Mem­ber of the New Zealand Or­der of Merit for his ser­vices to con­ser­va­tion.

He was pre­sented with his Queen’s Hon­our by Gov­er­nor-Gen­eral Patsy Reddy, at Gov­ern­ment House in Auck­land yes­ter­day.

Ruka was ac­com­pa­nied by fam­ily, hapu¯ and other sup­port­ers. “I’m proud that this mahi has been recog­nised be­cause I’m not the only one, this isn’t just for me,” he said.

Ruka said he was “driven” partly by mem­o­ries of when peo­ple ”could throw the kids in the wa­ter any­where, have a drink from streams any­where”.

“You can’t do that now. New Zealand has an abun­dance of wa­ter, we have more than most coun­tries, but 95 per cent of the rivers and streams, you can’t drink from them. If we don’t turn the waka around now, what will it look like in an­other 10 years?” It has been a big week for Ruka. On Mon­day he ac­cepted a role of­fered by Environment Min­is­ter David Parker to sit on the Kahui Wai Ma¯ori Ad­vi­sory group that will help in­form the Gov­ern­ment’s blue­print to im­prove fresh­wa­ter qual­ity.

Ruka started Environment River Pa­trol Aotearoa in 2010, spurred by the poor qual­ity of wa­ter around his wha¯nau land at Ko¯kopu.

As well as river pa­trols, fish surveys and push­ing for tougher mea­sures to fence stock from wa­ter­ways, he has writ­ten at least 1000 re­ports and sub­mis­sions for re­source con­sents, in­quiries, cen­tral and lo­cal gov­ern­ment pol­icy plan­ning, Wai­tangi Tri­bunal hear­ings, busi­nesses and me­dia.

Ruka and the Whati­tiri Ma¯ori Re­serve Trust, rep­re­sent­ing Te Uriro­roi, Te Parawhau and Te Mahure­hure ki Whati­tiri hapu¯, played a lead­ing role in end­ing Auck­land bot­tling com­pany Zo­diac Hold­ings’ plan to take up to 2.5 mil­lion litres a day from Poroti Springs.

The 30-year bat­tle was re­solved this year when Zo­diac’s land and con­sents were bought by the Crown and land banked.

Other North­landers pre­sented with hon­ours this week were:

Sa­mara Ni­cholas, of Whanga¯rei, MNZM, for ser­vices to ma­rine con­ser­va­tion and ed­u­ca­tion; Jonathan Wilkin­son, of Whanga¯rei, MNZM, for ser­vices to peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties; Peter Craw­ford, of Whanga¯rei, QSM, for ser­vices to the com­mu­nity and sport; Dr Carolyn Peters, of Whanga¯rei, QSM, for ser­vices to the com­mu­nity; Richard Shep­herd, of Whanga¯rei, QSM, for ser­vices to Ma¯ori and the com­mu­nity; Dr Gor­don Hosk­ing, of Man­gawhai, ONZM, for ser­vices to con­ser­va­tion; John Jack­ets, of Kerik­eri, QSM, for ser­vices to mu­sic; Robert Tul­loch of Whanga¯rei, QSM, for ser­vices to se­niors and peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

Mil­lan Ruka (MNZM), cen­tre, with Gov­er­nor Gen­eral Patsy Reddy and her hus­band Sir David Gas­coigne.

Lindy Laird

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