Normally at this time of year you can find Dennis Puklowski whitebaiting on the Waimea River near Appleby, but this season he’s yet to set his net due to restricted access.
“Dad always fished and whitebaited here. I started coming here with him in 1957 and have been here every year since,” says Dennis.
This season the whitebait has been safe from his net as Dennis, hampered by “crook knees”, is unable to lug his gear the one kilometre to the water’s edge, since the Tasman District Council secured a steel gate across the access way.
Last year the council opened the gate for the whitebait season but community relations manager Chris Choat says they’ll not be doing that again.
“The fencing and gate was provided to protect the riverbank from heavy vehicles and flytippers. When the gate was opened for the season the use as a four-wheel drive track resumed, endangering other users and the essential plantings, as did the flytipping,” says Chris.
While Dennis says it was “hoons not whitebaiters” that drove over plantings last year, the council is remaining steadfast in their decision to keep the gate in place.
“The area is becoming increasingly popular with residents and will only get more popular, hence the development as a sustainable community space, and ratepayers and residents should not be endangered nor pay for the collection of other people’s rubbish,” says Chris.