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As in 2020, several participants raised concern with the management and quality of rivers around Taumarunui:

"Seventy-five percent of that river out there goes into the power scheme at the top by the mountains. There's tunnels and canals, it flows to Tokaanu. So there's a whole bunch of tunnels underneath from Otukou, tunnels flow to Tokaanu and that hydroelectric power plant there. That's where most of the water goes. Now that was 50 or so years ago and I know what it was like before when we were kids. It was six to eight feet higher than now. What it's done is it doesn't wash anything away. Now you can walk on any of those rocks and slip because there's algae growing due to the temperature of the sun beating down because the water is so shallow and the rocks will grow algae."
"That's a major problem. Sediment from the farms round the place. That's a big problem, erosion. The erosion of the riverbanks due to floods. You're getting more flash floods because the farm lands put in drains and straighten their drains, clear their drains. The water gets into the main river faster and washes everything out."
"The more bugs you have in the river, the healthier the river is because then the eels and fish, and everything. And at the moment there are a lot of places with just snails and worms which is the worst thing, and that’s because of the build-up of sediment. Farming right to the edge of the streams. Stock going into them. All those sorts of things. They're slowly being started to be held accountable but it’s a huge job."
"We still swim in the river in certain places. It's not like the Manawatū or anywhere where they can't swim or eat anything out of the river. A lot of fish, a lot of trout. But the trout taste like dirt. It's the worst tasting trout you can get. No matter how much honey you put on it. They have the national trout fishing champs on this river in April. They caught 600 over the weekend, three days. And that's catch and release, so they were quite big trout too. But you wouldn't eat them."
"You can't raft down, you can't even tube down it now. You used to be able to. Me and my cousin did a rafting course on the Tongariro, and it was really fun, and we came here to try it and we just got stuck on all of the rocks."
"Tubing used to be quite a thing that everybody did. You got the rubber tubes and my kids did it last summer from up by the quarry and honestly it took them so long, it's not as much fun as it used to be. "

Changing weather patterns in Taumarunui were observed by participants, with various impacts:

"The issues of recent are the mountain issues, but that's more industry side of things, but at the same time with the snow that impacts on our community with employment as well. Like there's less people and so small businesses like cafes do not get as many tourists through so then they can't employ as such staff, that whole trickle on, domino effect."
"Over the COVID times, the lack of snow had multiple impacts on our community. Because of the lack of snow as well once the mountain opened up, the season was shortened or later, a big impact."
"Climate change has got a lot to do with it. The seasons have moved. In August and September you're having frosts. We never used to get frosts, never in August or September. Even daffodils are opening up now at this time of the year!"
"Last summer our vegetables, our vegetables went to seed really quickly. Too much rain and there were no bees so therefore we didn't get a harvest. Our harvest was late and because it rained for the first couple of months. It was the worst November we ever had. There was no plums, no apples or lemons. It was all to do with the bees. "

Air quality in Taumarunui was a concern due to people burning household rubbish coupled with the town’s valley location:

"Rubbish burning is really bad. If you go out a cold night you can smell it. It costs so much to dump your rubbish so people burn it in their back yard or in their fires. You know, a really good firestarter is milk bottle! Not good for your chimney. But if they're paying $20 for ute to drop off rubbish and I think $23 for 100kgs, because our rubbish gets transported out of town. Ten tonnes a week to Hampton Downs. "
"Oh no, it's... that's the culture down here. It's always been a culture down here to burn our rubbish because you're saving money by burning rubbish and it's been the thing that we always did. We've always done that. I don't know why. It was probably a flow on from the old mill days when there were lots of fires burning around, just throw things on it."
"It's an air quality thing. I think we have one of the worst air qualities in the District and it's because we are in a valley and if you have a whole lot of people burning rubbish, like down Matapuna, it's so bad. And you'll go outside and you can just smell it and it just sits there like smog. "

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