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Pollution threaten our waterways

In 50 years, we would have no rivers left in South Island

If you are one of those who agree that the New Zealand’s waterways are under threat of pollution and degradation, you should then extend your hand of support to a team that is petitioning the government to make changes to the rules in force.

Three students of Massey University are a part of a team that is driving for the requisite changes to the Freshwater Standards that are currently in force.

Agri-Science student Marine Prickett, Master of Science postgraduates Paul Boyce and Kyleisha Foote, film producer Ben Sarten and Conservationist Geoff Reid completed their ‘Choose Clean Water Tour’ last month as a part of the Project. They visited 25 locations in 28 days, filming stories on the impact of New Zealand’s declining freshwater quality.

Public participation

Pollution threatens- Group Picture WebFollowing their visits and filming, they prepared a petition called, ‘Choose Clean Water’ for public signature. They have obtained more than 10,000 signatures, surpassing their self-assigned target, which has since been lifted to 15,000.

At press time (on March 29) they were due to submit it to Parliament.

The Petition asks for ‘Swimmable (primary contact)’ to be set as the minimum standard for freshwater in lakes, rivers, streams, groundwater, wetlands and estuaries, and establish that the priority for New Zealand’s freshwater legislation is the health of the people, wildlife, and the environment.

Ms Prickett said that the team is working towards clean and swimmable waters for all New Zealanders in the future.

Legislative review

“We knew that the Freshwater Legislation will be under review this year, and this was our opportunity to help make a change. What was missing from the debate on declining water quality was the human element. We needed to hear the stories of the impact the changing waterways was having on people. We wanted to film people telling their stories in their own words,” she said.

What they discovered ranged from disappearing rivers in the south to streams polluted with raw sewage in the north; and communities rallying together to make a positive change with their freshwater ecosystems.

“We are facing a freshwater crisis, and we need to take action now,” Ms Prickett said.

Martin Horgan, President of Tourism Export Council of New Zealand which supported and sponsored the tour, said that the Project was chosen from a number of environmental projects as it was likely to have the most impact with some clear outcomes.

“The motivation for New Zealand to live up to our environmental promise is twofold, namely from a sustainable point of view for future generations and from a commercial perspective. Our clean, green image has worked as a marketing promise in the past, but if we are not more active and live up to it, in 50 or 100 years, there would be nothing to market,” he said.

Ms Prickett acknowledged the support and guidance of Professor Russell Death, Professor of Freshwater Ecology and Dr Mike Joy in their Project.

“We have had such positive feedback from our lecturers at Massey and we seem to have struck a chord with the people of New Zealand. Our films (which are on the website and on YouTube) have been viewed over 90,000 times. We want as many people as possible to sign the petition while it’s still possible,” she said.

If you wish to support the Petition, please visit www.toko.org.nz

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Photo Caption:

Geoff Reid, Kyleisha Foote, Ben Sarten, Arthur Bowen (Whangawehi Catchment Management Group) and Marnie Prickett with drop-shaped petition forms.

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