NZ Outdoors Party – Fresh Water Policy

Our Vision: We want to create a country where we are admired by the world not just because of our wonderful natural environment, but because of the way we live. A way of life that protects and enhances that environment.

This policy and associated papers are copyright. NZ Outdoors Party. 2017

Drinkable water is everyone’s birthright – We will bring FRESH back into FRESH WATER

We will bring FRESH back into FRESH WATER.

The NZ Outdoors Party will ensure that all New Zealanders have clean drinkable water.

Maintain water quality in all rivers, to a swimmable drinkable level.

To keep rivers in their natural state as much as possible subject to water storage requirements.

To ensure there is no privatisation or ownership of water, as it belongs to all New Zealanders.

Pest control around water storage facilities and waterways, to be done manually with non poison methods.

Why is NZ Short of Water?

An example of a clean river in the middle of rime diary country prior to the dairy boom.

New Zealand is blessed with 1,100 rivers, 4,000 lakes and 600 billion cubic metres of annual precipitation. Of this, 11 billion cubic metres of freshwater is consumed (taken out and not returned) by human activity. Although this sounds, literally, like a drop in the ocean, the fact is that most of it falls where it is not consumed and conversely most is consumed where it does not fall.

Who use most of the water?

The biggest consumer of freshwater is irrigation schemes, primarily for dairy pasture.
Excluding hydro schemes this comprises 80% of all consented freshwater takes. In Canterbury alone the conversion of dry tussock plains into dairy pasture uses half of all our consumed water, despite the region having only 10% of the countries natural water supply.

Is water quality improving?


Fisheries data shows that through either pollution, abstraction or modification, trout populations have collapsed in the Ruamahanga, Riuwaka, Takaka, North Ashburton, Irwell and Selwyn Rivers and lakes Ellesmere, Tutira and Hayes to name a few.
Land clearance and disturbance from forestry, high stocking rates and ploughing causes sediment to wash into rivers and estuaries during high rainfall. Sediment blankets spawning areas for fish and invertebrate habitat as well as reducing clarity.

In 2017 the Ministry for the Environment reported that 61% of rural lowland rivers have worsening nitrogen pollution, phosphorus pollution was improving for half of measured sites but we do not have sufficient data to measure e.coli trends for two thirds of our rivers.

Fisheries data shows that through either pollution, abstraction or modification, trout populations have collapsed in the Ruamahanga, Riuwaka, Takaka, North Ashburton, Irwell and Selwyn Rivers and lakes Ellesmere, Tutira and Hayes to name a few.
Land clearance and disturbance from forestry, high stocking rates and ploughing causes sediment to wash into rivers and estuaries during high rainfall. Sediment blankets spawning areas for fish and invertebrate habitat as well as reducing clarity.

Big irrigation schemes enable intensive agriculture which in turn increases run off and eases run off and pollution into our surface and groundwater. To date, the Government has spent less than 2% of its funds committed to such irrigation schemes. Thus continuing to irrigate will lead to a fifty fold increase above current pollution levels.



More irrigation and nutrients from animal waste and fertilisers will lead to increased freshwater pollution over the next 30 to 50 years. Our rivers and lakes will be less likely to provide safe swimming, good fishing or to sustain food gathering in the future if we carry on as we are currently.

Government freshwater standards allow for levels of nitrates toxic to fish and only sets swimmable standards for 10% of our rivers and lakes.

What is wrong with intensive agriculture from dams?

Big irrigation schemes enable intensive agriculture which in turn increases run off and pollution into our surface and groundwater. To date, the Government has spent less than 2% of its funds committed to such irrigation schemes.

Irrigation means more intensive agriculture.

Thus continuing to irrigate and intensify will lead to a fifty fold increase above current pollution levels.
More irrigation and nutrients from animal waste and fertilisers will lead to increased freshwater pollution over the next 30 to 50 years. Our rivers and lakes will be less likely to provide safe swimming, good fishing or to sustain food gathering in the future if we carry on as we are currently.

Government freshwater standards allow for levels of nitrates toxic to fish and only sets swimmable standards for 10% of our rivers and lakes.

Dried up river from excessive irrigation. Showing dead fish.


Our freshwater quality standards are focused on swimmability which relates solely to e.coli levels . They do not protect healthy aquatic ecosystems and we have no freshwater quantity (minimum flow) standards.

What will the NZ Outdoors Party do?

The NZ Outdoors Party will instigate the following policies for freshwater

Stop Creating More Pollution: End the $540M of public funds for irrigation
schemes, diverting this money to develop truly environmentally beneficial farming practices.

Keep Rivers Unmodified: Unless there is a risk of damage to
infrastructure, Councils must maintain the natural character of rivers, provide for rivers to change and meander and so stop rock walling, cross blading, dams and diversions

Water Belongs to Everyone: No property rights , rental, payment or trading
of water. Commoditisation of freshwater leads to consolidated ownership.

Those who profit from polluting freshwater should pay for its restoration.

Keep Rivers Full: Set a minimum environmental flow standard for all
rivers in NZ, below which no abstraction is permitted.

Keep Rivers Clean: Revise the National Policy Statement Freshwater
Management (NPS FM) to set standards and attributes at healthy freshwater
ecosystem levels.

 Set up governing body to set water policy for New Zealand and monitor the performance of councils including:

Agree with each council the appropriate water quality levels for each waterway within their catchment, and any actions required to achieve and maintain those levels;

Monitor councils’ performance in relation to water quality;

Agree with each council the appropriate volume of water for each waterway within their catchment

What about the export of bottled water?

We are disgusted by the emergence of the water bottling industry. Our precious and purest water is sucked from the aquifers and exported in plastic bottles to china without any cost. Our purest water, exported while we drink water that has filtered through factory scale mega dairy farms.

We will ban the export of all New Zealand water.

Copyright and credits

This policy and associated papers are copyright. April 2017. NZ Outdoors Party.

This policy is the work or a number of people and specialist in the team namely: David Haynes, Alan Simmons.

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Alan Simmons

Alan Simmons

President & Co-Leader Alan has dedicated a lifetime of involvement in outdoors political issues. He’s sat on a number of national body executives, boards, NGO and management groups, including the NZ Professional Hunting Guides Association, Electricorp Environmental Management Board, NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers and the NZ Professional Fishing Guides Association. Many will know him through his website, the hugely popular New Zealand FishnHunt forum.

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