Federated Farmers environment spokesman Ian Mackenzie says the Green Party was blaming farmers for pollution in rivers, whereas the most polluted rivers were urban. Photo from Allied Press files.
The quality of New Zealand's rivers is not the sole
responsibility of the rural sector, Federated Farmers
environment spokesman Ian Mackenzie says.
The Ashburton farmer and Land and Water Forum member has
criticised the recently-released Green Party policy, which
aims to have all New Zealand rivers suitable for swimming.
''At the end of the day, the Greens' policy is
disingenuous,'' Mr Mackenzie told Courier Country on Monday.
While the Greens said they were speaking about all rivers, in
effect they were only meaning rural waterways, he said.
The most polluted rivers were urban; to get them up to
swimming standards, many city sewerage and stormwater systems
would have to be completely redesigned.
''They're not proposing that. They're blaming farmers for
That was ''dishonest'' and ''misleading'', Mr Mackenzie said.
However, he believed most people understood that, and he had
received ''very positive'' feedback on his stance.
The new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management
(NPS) required polluted waterways to be brought up to a
minimum standard, which would be ''very difficult and
expensive'' for most urban rivers, he said.
Each community could decide the standard it required above
the minimum and how soon to achieve it. All waterways had to
have their current standard either maintained or improved.
''If communities want it improved, the NPS specifically
allows and encourages that.''
Mr Mackenzie said he was ''reasonably confident'' it would
''The strength of the NPS is that local communities have to
think about what it will take ... understand the
implications, how they will get there without closing
schools, hospitals, etc.
''It's quite sensible.''
The effects on jobs, rates and the local economy had to be
taken into account when water quality decisions were made, he
''To leap into swimming as the gold standard for all, without
some sort of exceptions regime, will likely cost urban
ratepayers massively in the pocket.
''This Green Party policy intent shows a lack of integrity.
It cannot be implemented fairly without a huge cost to
society and will likely only end up being implemented in
rural areas instead of all waterways.
''In other words, it will let off the hook some of our most
polluted waterways, like Wellington's Waiwhetu Stream and
Christchurch's Avon, yet insist on higher standards for our
rural streams and rivers.
''This is cynical lip service to comprehensively addressing
''If this is truly a water quality policy, then it fails to
address the fact that more than half of the water quality
monitoring sites are within 2km of urban areas and 90% are
It was important to note that the Government had resisted any
attempt to have minimum water standards set at a level that
would shut down the economy, Mr Mackenzie said.
''Farmers and our stock need good water quality but to be
truly equitable, town and country have to be in the same
- by Sally Brooker