Topic: Rereātea - Midday News

Government's plan to improve NZ waterways

By Regan Paranihi

The government has announced their five-year plan to improve the state of New Zealand's waterways

Environment Minister David Parker says lakes and rivers should be clean enough for people to swim in without the risk of getting sick.

"New Zealanders value our rivers and lakes.  More than 80 percent are committed to improving water quality for the benefit of future generations.”

The five year plan identifies a new approach to the Māori/Crown relationship that acknowledges Māori interests in fair access to water to develop their land.

Parker says, "We know Māori share the same interests as the rest of New Zealand in improving water quality and ensuring fair access to water resources."

Minister for Māori/ Crown Relations, Kelvin Davis, says Māori and the Crown are committed to cleaning up New Zealand waterways.

"We are committed to a substantive discussion on how to address Maori interests, by taking practical steps to address constraints on Māori land development."

Parker recently visited the Aparima River where the farming community is leading an initiative to encourage all farm managers in the Southland area to follow better farming practices.

He also says the government will be engaging with environmental NGOs, Māori, farming leaders, scientists, Regional Council experts and others to help solve the issues.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor says, "Primary sectors are crucial to an environmentally-sustainable, high-value economy that supports the well-being of all New Zealanders.  This is why we must grow a sustainable and productive primary sector within environmental limits.

"Many in the sector are already working hard to protect the natural resources they depend on, and recognise the importance of enhancing our reputation as a trusted producer of the finest food and fibre products.”

Parker says the new rules will be in place by 2020.