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Striking the Balance Debate - classroom

A resource-use debate encouraging critical thinking

We regularly run this debate for groups at the Trout Centre - it can be made simpler or more detailed depending on the age group. The scenario is detailed below, along with the PDF instructions to download. You might even use a trip to Tongariro National Trout Centre to gather evidence for some of the positions. 


The Tongariro River has it sources in Tongariro National Park and the Kaimanawa Forest Park. It runs mostly through forested land and past the township of Turangi before draining into Lake Taupō. Many groups of people feel they have a right to access the water in the Tongariro, and opinions are divided. A community meeting has been organized to allow each group to put their case forward. It is hoped that the outcome will strike a balance to support social, environmental and economic sustainability of the area.
Today, you represent one of the user groups. You will present and defend an argument for your share of the Tongariro River waters.

You can download detailed instructions and 'roles' here (pdf).

The objective of this debate is for students to come to their own understanding that each use of a resource has its own value, that working together to 'strike the balance' will bring the best outcomes for all. You may wish to discuss the following points when concluding the task:

  • Everything is connected

  • Te Ao Māori is acknowledged in NZ court of law through Treaty of Waitangi, but also relevant to any resolutions around resource management

  • Humans are a species using resources from the Tongariro River, and are not exempt from needing ecological systems in balance

  • Conservation is an investment, not a cost

  • The community will need to strike a balance

  • Need to work together and compromise to achieve social, cultural, environmental and economic sustainability