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Greens to campaign for clean rivers

Radio New Zealand Radio New Zealand 5/06/2016 Radio New Zealand
Cattle on Waiotu River in Northland - Millan Ruka said the council had a poor track record in stopping pollution.: Cattle on the banks of the Waiotu River in Northland. © RNZ / Lois Williams Cattle on the banks of the Waiotu River in Northland.

The Green Party has launched a water campaign to clean up rivers across the country.

As part of their “Swimmable Rivers” campaign, the party will visit 10 different rivers from around New Zealand and highlight what needs to be fixed.

Green's co-leader Metiria Turei told members at their Annual General Meeting in Christchurch that under National, two thirds of rivers were unsafe for swimming.

“New Zealand needs a government to back our rivers, and to stop defending polluters,” she said.

“Government subsidies for damaging irrigation projects - like the Ruataniwha dam that will impact the Tukituki River - shows the government's refusal to protect water quality.”

The 10 rivers are:

  • Wairua (Te Tai Tokerau/Northland)
  • Kaipātiki/Lucas Creek (Tāmaki Makarau/Auckland)
  • Waikato
  • Tarawera (Te Moana-a-Toi/Bay of Plenty)
  • Tukituki (Heretaunga/Hawke's Bay)
  • Waitare (Taranaki)
  • Ruamāhanga (Wairarapa)
  • Manawatū
  • Waikirikiri/Selwyn (Waitaha/Canterbury)
  • Mataura (Murihiku/Southland) 
  • Rapids on the Waikato River near Taupo. © Ross Setford/Getty Images Rapids on the Waikato River near Taupo.

Metiria Turei said the government's Freshwater Improvement Fund was a drop in the bucket of what was needed to make rivers safe for swimming.

Last month's Budget committed $100 million to the contestable fund to improve freshwater quality, first mooted in 2014.

The money would be spread over 10 years and would be used to support projects to clean up the country's rivers, lakes and aquifers.

“This is typical National Party, talk big, do bugger all,” Ms Turei said.

“The Fund can be used for irrigation. That's right, like a cow pooing in the creek, the fund is already so fouled it can be used to further pollute the waterways.” Cattle on Waiotu River in Northland - Millan Ruka said the council had a poor track record in stopping pollution.

Yesterday Andrew Little became the first Labour leader to speak at a Green Party AGM.

He said the two parties have to prove they are a credible alternative to the National-led government, after having signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together.

The Green Party said if it was elected to government with Labour, it would put a moratorium on new dairy conversions, support land based sewage solutions and put filters on storm water drains. It said it would also put a price on commercial use of water.


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