14 Aug 2012

River patrol man gets backing to go full-time

9:30 am on 14 August 2012

Tai Tokerau's river patrol man, Millan Ruka, has won the financial backing to do his environmental work full-time.

Mr Ruka set up Environmental River Patrol Aotearoa last year, to report on the pollution of Whangarei rivers and help the dwindling tuna (eel) population.

The Maori conservation fund Nga Whenua Rahui has just given him a grant to work towards clean rivers, fenced-off stock and thriving tuna.

Mr Ruka told Te Manu Korihi he has quit his job as a building assessor, and though he's taking a big drop in income he's elated he can now devote his time to the awa.

He says he has set a number of goals for the coming year, including safe passage for elvers and eels in the Wairua River system, and a reduction in water take consents for the taonga awa of Poroti hapu - the Waipao stream.

Mr Ruka came to national attention last year when it emerged that he had bought camera gear and a jetboat and was personally documenting the pollution of waterways he remembered as pristine in his youth - and sending detailed reports to the Northland Regional Council.

He said then that the rivers feeding into the Kaipara Harbour were fouled by cattle excrement and dead cows; the banks were mostly unfenced and farmers were using the rivers to water stock.