- Founding member of Whitewater New Zealand (WWNZ) the advocacy group that hydro, irrigation and government groups recognise as the national voice on wild rivers.
- Steering Group, Regional Committee member of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS)
- The only non-paid advocate of five environmental members of the government-driven Land and Water Forum (LWF).
- Chair, Irrigation Acceleration Funds Advisory Panel to the government’s adoption of a number of policies that support a collaborative approach to water management.
- 1960’s – Exploration of South Westland glacial rivers using homemade rafts, including floating the Waimakariri River from its source to the sea by inner tube (151 km (94 mi.).
- 1980’s – First descents of now internationally known Arahura, Taipo and Turnbull Rivers.
For decades, Hugh has raised awareness amongst the political leadership of the importance of the river environment for recreationalists. He has created change and reduced threats to rivers with professional expertise and relationship-building skills. His “let the river do the talking” trips have taken journalists, politicians, hydro engineers, consultants, landscape architects, farmers, CEOs and Maori elders, opponents and supporters alike, down many rivers, often in partnership with commercial rafting industry.
Measurable benefits for rivers due to Hugh’s work include a water management strategy for Canterbury and progress towards the government adopting the LWF recommendations – the list is long. Today, Hugh still encourages, manages, advocates or participates to further kayaking and preserve rivers for paddling at national and regional policy level forums, national sport organization administration, consent hearings in all parts of the country, and grass-root club trips on endangered rivers.