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Thread: New Zealand rivers - still going backwards in 2017

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    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Auckland, New Zealand

    Default New Zealand rivers - still going backwards in 2017

    Reality check: New Zealand anglers are facing massive problems with water quality. A recent report (one of many over the years) gives the detail; see

    The Prime Minister is a farmer and the NZ government is determined to double dairy farm production, so these results are not surprising.

    A media report from February last ( gives the main causes of the problem.

    We have an election coming in September. Anglers will raise the water issue loud and clear; we owe it to future generations.

    Update (5 June 2017): more on the effects of big farming - see

    Another development (8 June 2017): new water lobby group formed (see

    A recent example of how the activities of New Zealand farming can affect water quality in our rivers (3 July 2017) - see

    pdate (8 July 2017): check out for a clip showing the degraded state of a once superb brown trout fishery. This sort of thing should not have happened, but it did because the New Zealand government is focussed on economic growth at all costs.

    Update (29 July 2017): some good news. A conservation group, the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society Incorporated, has won a court case preventing public land being exchanged for other land in order to construct a hydro-electric dam on a major trout river (the Tukituki). The decision was made by our highest court (Supreme Court) so it cannot be appealed. See

    The only question remaining is whether the government will change the law and deprive the conservationists of the fruits of their victory.

    Update (11 August 2017): Two NZ political parties are proposing a water levy on the farming sector. This proposal has prompted the usual objections from vested interests; see

    New Zealanders are waking up to the damage farming is doing:

    The current National (conservative) government remains content to sacrifice NZ waterways to buy the farmers' vote.

    Update (28 August 2017): a farming group has stated it wants to help New Zealand have swimmable rivers ( That's good, but they also want to keep dairy herd numbers at current levels. At present we have about 6 million cows - each animal produces waste matter equal to 12 humans. The two ends of the string ain't gonna meet.

    One major political party (Labour) has stated it favours a water royalty or resource rental on industrial users. At present, irrigators in rural regions take public water for nothing, just paying for infrastructure costs. Recent polling shows many New Zealanders agree with the concept of a water charge.

    The need for clean, healthy waterways is now being mentioned by campaigning politicians - something which has never happened before in NZ politics. The tide may be turning.

    Update (2 Sept 2017): a New Zealand artist (Sam Mahon) has produced a sculpture of the government's environment minister in what many may feel is an appropriate posture. Viewing is highly recommended. See

    Sam Mahon lives in a part of South Island that has seen local rivers destroyed by excessive irrigation.

    Update (2 Sept 2017): the declining state of NZ rivers hit the international news in this recent report from Al Jazeera:

    The farming groups remain in denial about the enormous damage they do.

    Update (8 Sept 2017): the New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers has identified several rivers lost to the angling community. See for their report. Meantime, the date for the New Zealand general election (23 Sept) draws nearer. This could prove to be the water election.

    Update (17 Sept 2017): the latest snapshot of how New Zealand farming is destroying our waterways -

    pdate (27 Sept 2017): we have had the general election and no major party got a clear majority in the House of Representatives to form a government. Everything hangs on which of the two main parties a third (smaller) party will support. We must wait until around 7 Oct for a decision, once special votes are counted. The problem is that if the National (conservative) party gains power, more rivers will be under threat from irrigation schemes directed to short term farm profits, without thought of the consequent environmental damage.

    Fishing pressure continues to increase in New Zealand's South Island, which is brown trout territory. Two local anglers visited that region last year and were told by one fishing guide that he had bookings for the next two years. Hordes of fly fishers descend on the better known waterways each summer. Rivers are also being overrun by tourist "freedom campers" who move around the country in hired campervans and swim, kayak etc in many formerly remote locations. Sounds like a great way to spread didymo ...

    UJpdate: 11 November 2017: good news. A multi-party government has been formed in New Zealand and the former conservative party, which was anti-environment, has been ousted. Some promising changes have emerged, including cancellation of taxpayer subsidies for irrigation schemes. (Irrigation is used to put intensive dairy farming on land unsuited to that type of farming, with nitrates leaching into waterways.)

    Unfortunately, big farming still treats NZ rivers like sewers. Farming companies continually appear in court charged with breaching farm effluent discharge regulations. It is hard to ascertain whether the financial penalties imposed are ever paid by these corporates, who may have had legal advice to structure their operations to avoid penalties.

    Update: 15 December 2017: New Zealand's largest lake, Lake Taupo, has been affected by a toxic algal bloom which is a danger to human health (see The algae caused the swim leg of the Taupo Ironman athletic event to be cancelled. Not a good advertisement for NZ's tourism industry. Meantime, the largest dairy corporation in the country
    (whose members continue to pollute NZ's waterways) is mounting a media campaign designed to show the industry in a good light.

    We live in a world of corporate duplicity - it's the Minamata scenario all over again. (For younger readers, Minamata is a town in Japan where a factory polluted the local bay with mercury. The company responsible for this crime
    denied it for years, but was ultimately held responsible.)
    Last edited by Flycasta; 12-20-2017 at 10:17 PM. Reason: Updated material

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