Press Release. 22/10/2015
From Alan Simmons, NZ Outdoors Party
Time to Authorities to Honestly Front up to Water Problems
It is well nigh time for government, regional councils, Federated Farmers NZ and some farmers to recognise New Zealand’s growing freshwater crisis both in terms of quality and quantity says the newly formed NZ Outdoors Party.
Alan Simmons of Turangi, founder and interim leader of the party, said the trout fishing public and outdoor recreationalists have been voicing concern for years over the decline year by year in water quality.
“However the public concern has been off-set and negated by Federated Farmers NZ’s spin doctors which encourages government inaction and a further push for more economic development at the expense of the environment,” he says. .
Every time anglers, concerned farmers, environmentalist or water scientists like Massey University’s Dr Mike Joye express concern about the worsening crisis, the response is how much work farmers are doing or how much riparian plantings they have done while turning a blind eye to intensification of land use.
“It’s a repeat of Nero fiddling while Rome burns,” he said.
Alan Simmons said many Kiwi family farmers were horrified at the expansion of corporate dairying in low rainfall areas.
“And I know many traditional farmers who are horrified at what has happened to the image of farming bought about by the greed of the new wave of corporate dairying entrepreneurs”.
Some farmers have valiantly tried to highlight the issue and often have led by example but are ignored in the rush to “white gold”. An example was government itself via Landcorp which had cleared huge areas of forest to convert to massive dairy farms.
“In effect the conversion has stripped the atmosphere of carbon sink by cutting down the trees and has sent a wave of pollution down the Waikato towards Auckland’s water supply. The government should be ashamed of itself for allowing this further degradation of the environment. Hypocrisy is common. Even Maori Trusts supposed to be the great conservationists cut down huge forests and turn them into dairy farms and then demand more water for irrigation to increase the number of cows.”
Alan Simmons also questioned the lack of conscience in regional councils which continued to promote huge irrigation schemes to be partially funded by ratepayers, in order to continue the intensification. Schemes like the proposed Hawkes Bay Ruataniwha scheme which will allow grazing of 40,000 cows on shallow river gravel lands which will leach vast amounts of nitrates into an already polluted TukiTuki River.
“This is totally an in-appropriate use of this land type and can only be sustained by massive irrigation schemes,” he said.
Many more schemes were proposed funded by public money but for private corporate profit. He cited a proposed irrigation scheme for the Wairarapa which will turn that area from a sheep farming, wine growing region into a landscape of dairy cows with nitrate pollutants entering the Ruamahunga River river to be used downstream to irrigate Martinborogh vineyards.
Alan Simmons as a trout fishing guide said he had stood in rivers with overseas anglers when the water had discoloured due to cow effluent. In one case eighteen months ago the whole river went white from a farm upstream emptying milk into the river.
“New Zealand’s clean, green, 100% pure branding is ruined by these instances. These overseas anglers go back home and tell others that the government’s clean green image is a big lie. Sooner or later our clean green image will be overcome by the stories of dirty NZ and every industry and NZ product will be affected by such greed.”
The deterioration of many lowland rivers was so marked that people cannot fish them any longer, let alone swim in them. Official estimates deem over 60% of New Zealand’s rivers are unfit for swimming he said.
“After a day trout fishing, waders can stink of cows poo and anglers find access is blocked by health and safety signs and electric fences.”
Alan Simmons said the current state of the environment was not the New Zealand he and his friends wanted to live in, nor the legacy to pass to grandchildren.
He called on Prime Minister Key to take control of the issue and take positive action to turn the situation round instead of procrastinating by forming another advisory group or commissioning another report.
“It seems to me that government ministers by their utterances for more and more dairy growth and their silence over dwindling river flows and rising pollution, are turning a blind eye or are oblivious to the concern and pain many New Zealanders are feeling over the environment.”
With an election in two years time Key has the opportunity to actually do something.
“Time will tell,” said Alan Simmons.
Contact: Alan Simmons 07 3867576 or 0274 980 304
New Zealand Outdoors Party www.outdoorsparty.co.nz