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It is 23 minutes past 7, great to have you with us, New Zealand, from end of paradise
to the other; it is paradise even though you can't swim in all the rivers. We market ourselves
internationally as being clean and green. A statement which is a little bit rich if
you look at the state of our rivers. In fact we haven't maybe looked at them enough and
there are many New Zealanders who are just getting to the point in their lives now where
they realise all is not perfect in Godzone. The Government's already committed $100 million
over ten years to cleaning up our waterways; they want people to be able to wade in all
of our rivers. So it's okay for National as long as we can get to the point where we can
wade in the rivers. The Green Party says that isn't good enough and that our rivers actually
need to be swimmable. So not drinkable, but swimmable. So that's where you are, you've
got wading, you've got swimming and then at the top of your game you've got drinking.
Green Party co-leader James Shaw is with me now, James good morning to you.
Good morning Paul. You know there wouldn't be many New Zealanders,
even those that poo-poo the Greens and just think a group of feral strange people that
aren't alarmed that our rivers have got to the point that they have got. When did we
start dropping the ball on rivers? Well we actually started dropping the ball
about 20 years ago, so this is a long run problem and it basically matches the intensification
of the dairy industry and also increasing population, particularly in our main urban
centres and you know, like Auckland and so on so it's been a problem that's been around
for a while. We haven't got a huge population for our area
though really have we? So it must come down, I suppose you've narrowed down dairying and
then industry. Well dairying and industry yes but it actually,
there is a lot of these rivers that flow through our near urban centres so the Ruamahanga goes
through Masterton, the Lucas Creek, in Auckland, of course which runs from Albany to the Waitemata
Harbour and two or three decades ago that was swimmable and a lot of places it was actually
drinkable but over the course of time, there's been a lot of silt, metals and weeds that
have choked it up and so it's now at the point where if you put your head under the water
you do run the risk of catching a horrible infection.
Everyone can understand dairy and its pollutant nature to rivers but when it comes to industry,
when it comes to a large population, the things that you're talking about now, what is it
that we're… how have we dropped the ball on tipping things into rivers?
Well in the Lucas Creek in Auckland for example, there are a number of stormwater drains that
run into the creek and there's rubbish and toxins that build up in the stormwater drains
that get passed through into the creek as well. So one of the things that we would look
at for urban centres in Auckland and other ones is proper stormwater filters where they
do meet the creek and also managing new development because part of what's happening of course
is that as you get more developments going on, you get soil and the heavy metals that
get tipped into the creek as well. Alright so the one good thing about all of
this and National have acknowledged it too is that at least now we're focussing on this
because obviously for at least a decade, we didn't even see that this was a burgeoning
problem. You don't know how much this is going to cost, National have said we'll throw $100
million at making these rivers wadeable and I agree with you, wadeable isn't good enough
but they don't even know if 100 million is enough for that. I mean what kind of money
are we talking? Well there have been some huge estimates,
there was one estimate that we saw late last year that said the cost of cleaning up all
of our rivers around the country could be anywhere between $4 billion and $7 billion
over the course of the coming few decades. It's a colossal cost and that's one of the
reasons why in this campaign we're focussing on ten key rivers around the country where
we can say we know what's going to make a difference, it's not going to cost the earth,
let's focus on some local rivers that people really know and love.
Can you - now I know that one of the things you've said is you would stop any more resource
consent for any more dairy farms, but you take the Ruamahanga in the Wairarapa, there
must be a lot of dairy farms on the banks of that river. Now you're not suggesting that
any of those dairy farms are closed down so how can you clean the river?
No absolutely not, well there are a number of things you can do and in fact there are
a lot of very good farm stories where farmers are putting huge amounts of effort into making
sure that they don't get runoff from the animals in to their water and from the nitrogens into
the water, you can do things like plant wetlands, riparian planting, increasing fencing along
the waterways, to ensure that animals don't get into the rivers and so on.
So this is not, we haven't missed the ball entirely… we haven't missed the party on
this, you think that there is still time to get all of these rivers to a swimmable standard?
Yes we do, none of them are completely beyond hope and in fact with the right kind of effort
I think it's not going to - we just need to focus on it.
Are Labour completely onside, your new buddies? I haven't spoken to them about it yet, but
philosophically, for sure. Okay James thank you very much for joining
us. Green Party co-leader James Shaw.
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James Shaw on Paul Henry talking swimmable rivers

113 Folder Collection
852 published on December 16, 2017
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