Muddy Buddy given reprieve

Event must move to new course from 2015

ALASTAIR PAULIN
Last updated 09:27 27/02/2014
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VIRGINIA WOOLF/FAIRFAX NZ
GOOD CLEAN FUN?: Frano Baird, left, and Kyle Johnson during the Sport Tasman Muddy Buddy event.

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The Buddy's back but it will be the last in its present location.

On March 9, Tasman School will again host hundreds of filthy families as they slog through the mud and obstacles of the Muddy Buddy.

The future of the popular slither over the mudflats of the Moutere Estuary had been in doubt after the Tasman District Council was advised the event should either be banned or required to obtain resource consent.

The council's resource scientist Trevor James told council last year that a report on the state of the estuary by Wriggle Coastal Management had shown adverse effects on the saltmarsh areas bordering the estuary as well as on the mudflats.

The council decided that although the event "technically requires a resource consent", it would be allowed to proceed this year on the understanding that this would be the final year of the race in its present location, environmental information manager Rob Smith said.

The race course has been narrowed and re-routed to minimise damage to the estuary and the school had also committed to "undertake some good remediation", Rob said.

He said the council recognised that the Muddy Buddy was a "significant event for the school - it's how they raise funds and we don't take that lightly" and that the compromise was a "good outcome for this year".

"The school has been good and has engaged with council, council staff, iwi and the Department of Conservation. They have discussed the course with us and it's been tweaked," Rob said.

Tasman School principal Pip Wells said the school and the council had been searching for a win-win solution.

"By no means do we think that trampling the environment is a good thing. We're an EnviroSchool and the kids have a deep responsibility for the estuary and the stream," she said.

The course has be re-routed so instead of running down the bed of the stream leading to the estuary, participants cross the steam and still run through a concrete culvert where it runs under State Highway 60. The mudflats section has also been moved to minimise damage to plant life.

Pip said the school had altered the course every year to guard against long-term damage and exploring how to minimise the event's harm had been a good learning experience for the pupils.

Last year, a presentation on the results of an 18-month investigation into the effects of the event on the estuary won the school an award at the Cawthron Institute science fair.

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The pupils' investigation produced similar results to the Wriggle report.

The school has a programme of planting on the school grounds and around the edges of the estuary and was looking at what it could do to help rehabilitate the LEH Baigent Reserve at Kina, Pip said.

Since the first concerns were raised about the environmental impact of the event about three years ago, the school had hosted speakers on the subject and children who had worked on the school's report into the impact were on the organising committee of last year's event.

The fun run was launched by school parent and professional event organiser Jodie Fa'avae in 2009 when about 270 people took part and the event quickly grew. Last year 1400 people ran, raising about $14,000 for the school, Pip said. As the school had only just started promoting this year's event, she expected numbers to be down.

Registrations for the race are from 9.30am till 10.30am on Sunday, March 9 at Tasman School as well as at muddybuddy.co.nz soon. The race starts at 11am. People are encouraged to dress up and there will be one-, two- and three-lap options. Entry includes a photo download and wash-down after the race where food and drink will be available.

Pip said a long-term site for the event from 2015 was being determined in consultation with the council and other interested parties and people should look forward to more changes.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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