When Nick Smith said making every river swimmable ‘was not practical’ did a little bit of you die?



Making every water body swimmable is ‘not practical’ – Nick Smith
Neither a rap nor bible verse could sway Environment Minister Nick Smith to consider making waterways swimmable.

Smith visited Palmerston North on Thursday as part the Government’s nationwide fresh water consultation, the night before a new five-year plan to clean up the Manawatu River was due to be released.

As the meeting turned over to the public for questions, a range were posed of the minister ranging from swimmable waterways and the Shannon wastewater treatment plant, to a protest rap, and a reading of a few verses from the book of Genesis.

Smith fielded several questions on why the Government was not aiming for swimmable waterways.

Each time, he responded that it simply was not “practical”.

“I do not think a legal requirement for every water body in New Zealand to be swimmable is practical.”

After cheerleading for the dairy intensification that now sees many dairy farms drowning in debt, Nick says it’s not ‘practical’ to ensure our rivers can be swam in.

Did a little bit of you die when you read that NZ?

This is the NZ National voters have built.

The Greens seem to be missing in action here. The Head of Hufflepuff, James Shaw (aka Dr Invisible) looks like a possum stuck in the headlights most interviews. I don’t want to sound like a trolls troll but the Greens communications and political strategy looks as flat footed as a duck. The Wellington clique who are running the Green Party now are great at alienating people on twitter, but don’t seem to be so sharp when it comes to making political gains.

Meanwhile our rivers run brown with cow shit so National Party voters can drown in debt.

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  1. A lot of me has died in the past 7 years of plunder of NZ’s so called ‘clean green’ image. What a joke. Now they are going for the kermedic’s – ‘there’s oil in them thar’ marine reserves’!
    What part of f**k off don’t they understand?

  2. Did a little bit of you die when you read that NZ?

    Indeed, it did.

    Only a blinkered National/ACT supporter could listen to Smith utter those depressing words and not be moved to anger.

    With that statement, we can mark the date that we officially abandoned any pretense at being “clean and green and 100% Pure”.

    This is what one million New Zealanders have voted for.

  3. NatZ are well choreograthered by Warner Brothers that’s why the nasty NatZ used a NZ taxpayer $30M bribe to keep Warner in NZ of course.

    This government are corrupt to the core.

    Vote them out next year folks.

  4. During nine years of the Labour Green coalition nothing was achieved on water quality. Zilch.

    The Key government managed to get buy-in from all stakeholders and introduced the first national water quality standard . Not a small feat!

    The opposition are just playing childish politics when they cry about the details. The reality is that they’ve been put to shame.

    Once we’ve met the initial standard the intention is to incrementally raise it. As I write thousands of kilometers of stream fencing riperian planting is taking place in order to meet the initial goal. We’ve also started NZs first national database on water quality so that we can begin to manage the problem.

    It may surprise many readers here to know that maybe half of our river pollution is caused by inadequate town waste water treatment plants and sewerage systems. The common perception gained from the media is that it’s all to do with cows but that is not the case. There’s a lot of work to be done!

    • A long time ago – last century, in fact, a teeny tiny portion of a large government department known as the Wildlife Service (who battled on with the lousiest pay rates and invented stuff from vaccum flasks to save the black robin) was working with farmers to put in farm ponds and protect streams from effluent and run-off.

      Through many careless urban-centred changes of government.

      The ancient Forest Service put together roading and logging plans to protect streams and soils – and used them.

      People got together to clean up offences such as the Lower Hutt Waiwhetu Stream.

      The juvenile form of DoC was working on riparian protection in the 1990s. Even the black miasma from wood processing plants that fouled and killed essential breeding grounds in estuaries for both fish and shellfish.

      And then it all went quiet.

      Very quiet.

      Too quiet for the safety of our water ways.

      May I politely point out that little bits of paper – ‘plans’ – are worth remarkably little – until they guide and are supported by feet at the factory or farmgate, or the gates of grubby citizens of towns and cities.

      Otherwise they simply stop dust falling on bookshelves until read, with wonder and disgust, by future historians.

      If the present government is not prepared to create an all parties agreement that they will hold for as long as needed; and allocate money for the Crown lands being affected; and take out the lures for people to rip off the systems meant to help repair and restore on the alienated lands; and work with training centres such as Massey and Lincoln to guide and train up rangers from DoC and the regional councils then –

      the wondrous paper is too stiff for the only purpose for which it is suited.


    • Riparian planting is a good start, but it only addresses the portion of waterway pollution caused by surface run-off. I had the good fortune to take an environmental fieldwork paper taught by freshwater ecologist Mike Joy. During that paper, I learned that most of the water pollution from animal farming is caused by overstocking, which results in cow faeces and urine that would normally be reabsorbed into the grassland ecosystem in the pasture (as it is in organic pastures) soaking right down through the soil and into the water table. This is also caused in part by the industrial agriculture approach of growing grass with imported chemicals (eg superphosphates contaminated with cadmium), rather than building the health and depth of soil with diversity of pasture species and adding composted organic matter and soil life, which help to soak up animal outputs and turn them back into fertile soil, and then into grass.

      As for your claim about “inadequate town waste water treatment plants and sewerage systems”, how do you account for the fact that the vast majority of NZ towns and cities are on the coast, but water quality studies find that water pollution starts as soon as our waterways leave the native forest, long before they get anywhere near any sewerage systems? Mt Taranaki is a classic example. There are a number of streams that start in the native bush on the mountain, and never pass through a single town with sewerage outlets, but their water quality declines rapidly between the point where they leave the bush and the coast.

    • Well said. For as long as I can remember there have been rivers that we could not swim in.

    • Please don’t confuse the issue by referring to the idiocy of chemtrails. The pollution is NZ rivers is caused by inappropriate farming methods and dirty industry.
      FYI aluminium is the commonest metals found all over the earth. Of course it’s going to be in rain water. It has been for millennium and still all of life survived.

      • I’m skeptical about “chemtrails”, but I’m pretty sure a lab test of rainwater should not be finding barium or strontium. If the lab that performed these tests is credible, surely it warrants further investigation by both public health and environmental health agencies?

  5. The milk prices are poor for farmers ,cant help but wonder if Fonterra organised poor prices to make farmers sell their farm at a loss,plenty of foreigners waiting in the wings to snap them up a bargain prices ,well done National, more forward planning to enable Keys cronies to buy up 95% of NZ farms

  6. Three Nat MP’s [Smith, Naylor,McKelvie] went for a short dip in the Manawatu river…but only after the regional council had fully tested the water…so folks if you want to go swimming, no problem simply take a Regional Council water testing team with you…and to think that the local paper [Manawatu Standard] gave this PR photo opportunity space…I’m astounded that we have not offered water from the Manawatu river free to a Chinese company to export to China…maybe water could replace dairy products.

    • Nick Smith was on the news last night saying it was ridiculous to charge foreign companies for the New Zealand water they were extracting and bottling for free, and then selling overseas for millions of dollars. I think what he actually meant was hell will freeze over before the National government will ask one of its biggest donors, Oravida, to pay a fair price for an extremely valuable resource they are getting for nothing.

  7. dairy industry externalized their pollution costs to the public commons and now there broke the clean up is in the to hard basket that means there industry was never viable to start with. there should be no bailout for the farmers

    • This is a pretty hardline, akin to saying no “bailouts” for the bludging unemployed. I think a sensible bailout would aim to keep the fertile foodbaskets of Aotearoa in local ownership, and encourage an evidence-based transition to more diverse and sustainable farming methods. The state could pay off farmers’ debt, and hold that equity in farmland as an asset, and a long-term investment. Farmers could buy the state share in their land back at a rate that they can afford, and continue managing the property, but with guidance from environmentally-educated farming consultants, funded overseen by a cooperative effort involving MFAT, MfE, and other relevant public bodies.

  8. I watch the flash shiny new 4WD cars that will never go off road charge through clogged Wellington streets. Filled with suits and designer skirts IPhone call types. Purchased by extending the credit against a housing bubble. Cash flow courtesy of an associated dairy bubble. Bring in immigrants to provide “growth”, print cash, build houses for them that need wood and water.. need I go on?

    Dirty rivers are the expression of our sick economy that eats the future to enable today’s consumption. Farmers externalities costs reflect their corporate financiers on Queen St. We are all soiled by each grubby purchase of useless consumerist crap. It ends up putting crap in rivers.

  9. Of course, it’s not even stated what percentage of rivers it isn’t practical to have as swimmable. Their idea might be to have a few rivers that are kept swimmable while the majority are to become drains.

  10. In my school holiday work milking cows, I often freshened up afterwards with a swim in the local stream. In Nick Smith’s opinion, my childhood is dead – but I suppose it does not affect GDP.

  11. All over the country there are shallow hand dug pipe drains which simply collect all thedung and urine washed down by rain and irrigation and it goes straight into the river nearby. The tile drains are so shallow that the muck doesn’t have a chance to get filtered out.

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