Good progress is being made to remove dead flax along the popular Southern Scenic Route, Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker says.
Mr Walker attended the public meeting in Orepuki about the spraying of flax and the long stretches of the Southern Scenic Route which are now lined with dead flax bushes.
“It was fantastic to see so many people turn out to the public meeting, see how much pride Southlanders have in their region and hear how important it is for them to be involved in decisions,” Mr Walker says.
“It really inspired me do everything I could to help resolve the issue. The Southern Scenic Route is our shopfront window for tourists – it’s so important that we protect this area.”
Following the public meeting, Mr Walker has been engaging with key stakeholders to try to resolve the issue. NZTA has also been meeting with local iwi.
Mr Walker received confirmation today from the NZTA that they would remove the dead flax from Riverton to Clifden. Beyond the Clifden Suspension Bridge, the dead roadside flax is the responsibility of the Southland District Council.
“It's been an emotive issue in the community so this is a great result. I’m thrilled the NZTA has come to the party and agreed to remove the majority of dead flax in their area of responsibility,” Mr Walker says.
“The next step is to get the Southland District Council on board to commit to removing the dead flax in their area – from Clifden to Manapouri.”
Mr Walker and Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie will meet with Southland District Mayor Gary Tong to discuss this on Monday.
Going forward, NZTA is also working with three local rūnanga to protect the flax in areas of the Southern Scenic Route.
“This is another great outcome of the public meeting. Flax is not a weed – it’s an important part of the cultural and economic history of our country,” Mr Walker says.
“I want to say a huge thank you to Anna Penn for organising the public meeting and for all of the hard work she has put in to resolve this issue. It just goes to show what the community can achieve by working together.”