This was peak time for anglers who, following recent rain, rushed to the Tongariro for hopefully the first big spawning run for this winter season. Many others ventured further up river to find a pool to themselves.
This steep increase occurred after the rain had stopped. It was not weather related but due to GENESIS meddling with the flow – again – and in doing so endanger human lives. This is lunacy . When the river gets too dirty after rain the Hydro Power Company – aka GENESIS – that control the flow through several dams and an underground power station on the upper Tongariro, suddenly close off the canal to Lake Rotoaira. The volume of water down the Tongariro is suddenly quadrupled as indicated on their graph.
Anglers who regularly wade over to various islands on the river easily get trapped. Many who are visiting tourist anglers then try to get back at the peak of the floods and, apart from a soaking, suffer extreme physical hardship and panic and emotional trauma stress – all caused by GENESIS being inconsiderate towards anglers and other public users – i.e. rafters, canoeists, etc. on the Tongariro River.
About ten years ago one TRM inmate – an elderly angler from Perth – almost drowned trying to return from the island below the Bridge Pool. He had crossed over in knee deep water and did not realise why and how quickly the river rose. Locals who watched him trapped and waving from the island were about to strip off to try to rescue him when he crossed back by being swept down about 100 m below where he entered. Needless to say he was traumatised and has never returned. The drama was recorded in local newspapers. GENESIS over-reacted next time they closed off the canal by alerting police who drove up and down the river with sirens warning anglers to avoid the river. Everyone thought Ruapehu must have blown up again. It was ridiculous so they did not try that stunt again.
Last Saturday TRM anglers were trapped again. This time two anglers – one of whom is the well known Editor of NZ’s most widely respected Fishing newspaper – FISHING & OUTDOORS – Graham Carter from Hamilton with his brother Doug from Dargaville – were fishing below the Silly Pool on the island.
Fortunately they had advised SWMBO of their plans. When we noticed the sudden increase we realised their dangerous predicament and panicked. Together with TRM’s fishing escort/buddy (not a guide!) Hannah, we raced up there on bikes to warn them and others. These ‘middle river’ pools such as Silly Pool, Cattle Rustlers, Sly Grog Pool, etc. are only accessible from the eastern TRB. If they had remained in that island location it could easily have been fatal. Fortunately Graham’s fishing experience on the Tongariro warned him to abandon their spot below the Silly Pool just in time!.
On our way back we also met other TRM anglers Stephen Stewart and David from Wellington – see photo. When they had left the Koura Street Bridge carpark they noticed about six anglers in the Breakfast Pool and two had waded out into the middle of Hydro Pool, so conditions were reasonable. By the time they walked up to Cattle Rustlers the big quiet river pools had turned into a dangerous tumultuous flood. It happens that quickly. The same scenario occurred on Never-Fail Pool island and on the island above Judges Pool. There is no escape other than wading back into a furious torrent. It quickly becomes very dangerous.
So what can anglers do about it? Waiting another ten years for someone to drown before GENESIS wake up to their moral responsibility is no longer an option? After the previous near-miss a decade ago they have confirmed their mercenary attitude that profits are more important than human lives at risk. There are many things they could do but greed still comes first. What a surprise! They could easily postpone shutting off the canal until night-time when fishing is not permitted. They could shut off the Moawhango tunnel and send the water south? But no – that would not spin the $$$ turbines. There are many other options they could investigate but they might cost money so have been ignored – again. Since we last protested about their poor greedy corporate behaviour over ten years ago, GENESIS is now half owned by the public so they have even more reason to act responsibly.
It is no use contacting them locally as they gave up listening to public protests many years ago. Go over their heads to Head Office. Their Chairman is Jenny Shipley (when she is not bottling your water for export…but that is another story) TRM anglers suggested the Heading – GENESIS SUCKS. Most appropriate in the circumstances.
Having regard to Genesis’ inexcusable performance forcing rapid flooding on the Tongariro year after year for the last 40 years, it is time they faced reality. In 2016 they cannot continue disregarding the risk to public lives in their greedy quest for increased $$$ profits. It is time they considered people come first and close the Poutu Intake and returned the once mighty Tongariro to natural flows.
At first impression this seems a big ask commercially but Genesis have ample alternative power sources as proven by the recent closure of Huntly -(see below) plus alternative thermal and wind generation options. There are many examples in North America of such hydro power schemes being shut down forever for far less reason. GENESIS have abused the Tongariro environment and risked anglers lives for far too long. Public attitudes have changed. GENESIS has to learn and change too.
Tomorrow TRM Daily Report is dedicated to one easy way that GENESIS could regain public and anglers’ approval to win some brownie points without any cost to them. A fascinating concept. Don’t miss it.
Genesis Energy is the largest electricity and natural gas retailer in New Zealand, with 26% and 42% market share respectively in the 2013–2014 financial year. In 2014, Genesis produced 14% of New Zealand’s electricity, and is the third largest electricity generating company in New Zealand in terms of MW capacity, GWh generation and revenue.
Genesis Energy operates the Huntly Power Station, a (953 MW) coal- and gas-fired thermal plant on the Waikato River. In addition to two gas/coal-fired generating units, Huntly has a 50 MW open-cycle gas turbine unit, and a (403 MW) combined cycle gas turbine commissioned in June 2007 as a NZ$500 million project. The first of the four coal-fired units at the Huntly Power Station was taken out of service in late 2012. A second unit was placed into long-term storage in December 2013 and permanently retired in June 2015. In August 2015, Genesis announced a timetable to end coal-fired electricity generation in New Zealand by closing the last two coal fired units in 2018.