Drinking river water – Tourism NZ puts visitors at risk

By   /   July 16, 2017  /   15 Comments

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The current Minister of Tourism is Paula Bennett. The same Minister who once advocated contraception for beneficiaries as some kind of ‘cure’ for sole-parenting. A major aspect  of Tourism NZ’s advertising campaign involves the “100% Pure” theme – a claim largely ridiculed and dismissed by most New Zealanders as a bad-taste joke;

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When it comes to irresponsibility and incompetence, we are well used to National’s performance over the last eight years. Homelessness and rising unaffordability, under-funding in healthcare and education; corporate subsidies; wasting taxpayers’ money on pointless exercises; increasing environmental degradation; uncontrolled migration to prop up a lack-lustre economy; and more scandals than we can recall – are National’s track record since 2008.

Up till now, National’s ineptness has impacted only on New Zealanders.

But not content with policies that have impacted harshly on a wide sector of the local population, National has now set its sights on how to screw up  visiting tourists;

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While concerns grow about the health of New Zealand’s waterways – including the potential for reputational damage – it has not changed the way the country presents itself to the world.

The latest “100% Pure” campaign, released last week, shows a tourist drinking water from a river, something that would be dangerous in parts of the country.

Tourism New Zealand is a government-owned and operated Crown Entity;

Tourism New Zealand is a Crown Entity funded by the New Zealand Government and established under the New Zealand Tourism Board Act 1991. We are led by a Board of Directors appointed by the Minister of Tourism and have a team of around 150 staff in 13 offices around the world. From humble beginnings, we are now the oldest tourism marketing department in the world.

The current Minister of Tourism is Paula Bennett. The same Minister who once advocated contraception for beneficiaries as some kind of ‘cure’ for sole-parenting.

A major aspect  of Tourism NZ’s advertising campaign involves the “100% Pure” theme – a claim largely ridiculed and dismissed by most New Zealanders as a bad-taste joke;

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As at 15 July, around 245,000 views have been made of the video on Tourism NZ’s Facebook page;

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Interestingly, whilst the woman in the image is depicted as scooping up the water and raising it toward her face, the video switches scene before her hands reach her face.

Obviously the producers of this video were not prepared to risk the woman’s  health by actually expecting her drink the water.

For good reason.

Many of New Zealand’s waterways are polluted to varying degrees by urban and dairying run-off. In 2013, the Environment Ministry reported that 61% of monitored rivers in New Zealand were unsafe for swimming. Waterways were either “poor” or “very poor” quality.

Ministry data showed that the worst performing  regions were also heavy dairy farming regions. Nine waterways in Canterbury rated “very poor”. Manawatu-Whanganui, Southland, and Taranaki had seven waterways listed as “very poor”. Hawkes Bay and Wellington had five each.

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Drinking  water from our lakes, rivers, and streams is a hazardous activity in 21st Century New Zealand. There is the risk of  infection; serious illness, and perhaps death from toxic algae, giardia, e.coli, campylobacter, etc.

Statistics NZ has a convenient map of e.coli levels throughout the country;

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Most New Zealanders are now aware of the serious health-risks posed by our polluted waterways – especially as urban populations and  dairy farming has increased  in the last nine years.  We have people like Dr Mike Joy, Massey University’s freshwater ecologist, to thank for breaking the silence on our polluted waterways;

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Dr Mike Joy – Massey University freshwater ecologist

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Dr Joy’s  revelations were unpopular with many in the business world and right-wing politics. People like National Party supporter and corporate lobbyist, Mark Unsworth,  bitterly attacked Dr Joy in a vitriolic email in November 2012;

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From: Mark Unsworth [mark@sul.co.nz]
Sent: Wednesday, 21 November 2012 12:15 a.m.
To: Joy, Mike
Subject: Ego Trip

Dear Dr Joy
Is your ego so great that you feel the need to sabotage all the efforts made by those promoting tourism in NZ because of your passionate views on the environment ?
You have the right to hold strong views but you ,as an academic whose salary is paid for by others taxes, must also act responsibly .
Letting your ego run riot worldwide in the manner you did can only lead to lower levels of inbound tourism.

You may not care given your tenure in a nice comfy University lounge ,but to others this affects income and jobs.
Give that some thought next time you feel the need to see your name in print in New York .And possibly think of changing your name from Joy to Misery-its more accurate
Cheers
Mark Unsworth”

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Unsworth was not attacking Dr Joy for incorrect facts. Unsworth was attacking Dr Joy for making public true facts.

Even our former esteemed Dear Leader, John Key, was dismissive of the scientist’s warnings;

“He’s one academic, and like lawyers, I could provide you another one that’ll give you a counter-view.”

Since then, the demonisation of Dr Joy has been replaced with understanding and acceptance. Like climate-change, river and lake pollution will not conveniently ‘go away’ if we ignore it. The consequences of ignoring the problem will be severe for us, and the environment, as the OECD warned us just this year;

New Zealand’s environment is under increasing stress due to an economy reliant on primary industries, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says.

It appeared to be resulting in environmental trade-offs, which put the country’s “green” reputation at risk, it said.

In a just-released report, the OECD urged New Zealand to come up with a long-term vision to transition to a greener, low-carbon economy.

[…]

New Zealand’s environment is under increasing stress due to an economy reliant on primary industries, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says.

It appeared to be resulting in environmental trade-offs, which put the country’s “green” reputation at risk, it said.

In a just-released report, the OECD urged New Zealand to come up with a long-term vision to transition to a greener, low-carbon economy.

[…]

It detailed the environmental impact of farming intensification, and warned freshwater pollution would continue under current economic growth plans.

New Zealand’s nitrogen balance had worsened more than any other OECD country between 1998 and 2009, primarily due to farming intensification.

Unfortunately, the best efforts of the Green Party to turn back the tide of water-pollution has often been stymied by intransigence and self-interest in  Parliament.

In October 2012, Green MP Catherine Delahunty’s private member’s bill – Resource Management (Restricted Duration of Certain Discharge and Coastal Permits) Amendment Bill – was drawn from the Ballot. The Bill would have reduced the amount of time that discharges could be made into our rivers “in exceptional circumstances”. (Yes, industries are allowed to discharge waste into our waterways! Who knew!?)

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Greens MP, Catherine Delahunty, at the Selwyn River

Greens MP, Catherine Delahunty, at the Selwyn River

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As reported in the NZ Herald in October 2012;

Green MP Catherine Delahunty said her member’s bill, which has passed its first reading, sought to close a loophole in the Resource Management Act that allowed contaminating discharges with toxic effects and discolouration of waters under “exceptional circumstances”.

Ms Delahunty said the phrase included no timeframe, and had been used to justify long-term pollution of some waterways and coastal areas.

Her bill would limit its use to five years.

Ms Delahunty’s Bill was voted down at it’s Second Reading by National (59 votes); NZ First (7 votes); ACT (1 vote), and  Peter Dunne.

This means that a company such as Tasman Pulp and Paper Mill is legally entitled to continuously dump pollutants into the Tarawera River in the Bay of Plenty. The rationale is that the mill hires local people, so pollution is a “necessary evil”. (Ironically, the products are then shipped back to Norway, which also portrays itself as “clean and green”.)

The Tarawera River’s nick-name is “The Black Drain“.

So our rivers and lakes will continue to be fouled by agriculture, dairying, industry, and urban activity.

Meanwhile, a government Crown Entity blithely produces and promotes a video depicting a woman drinking from one of our waterways.

What tourists don’t understand is what may be lurking up-river, just out of sight around the next bend;

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Note the brown stain flowing from the cow.

What might that be?

Now look at what National, via Tourism NZ, is promoting as safely drinkable.

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New Zealand should post a Health Warning at every airport terminal.

Preferably before someone gets seriously ill. Or dies.

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References

Fairfax media:  New ‘100% Pure’ campaign shows tourist drinking river water

Tourism NZ: About

Radiolive:  Will free contraception for beneficiaries improve society?

Tourism NZ: Welcome to New Zealand

Facebook: Tourism NZ

Fairfax  media:  Many NZ rivers unsafe for swimming

Statistics NZ: River water quality – e.coli

Facebook:  Russel Norman – Mark Unsworth’s email

Fairfax media:  Are NZ politicians joining the international tide of post-truth politics?

Fairfax media:  Farming, emissions and waste putting NZ’s ‘green’ reputation at risk, OECD says

NZ Herald: Bill aims to plug pollution loophole

Parliament: Vote – Resource Management (Restricted Duration of Certain Discharge and Coastal Permits) Amendment Bill — Second Reading

Mediaworks/Newshub:  Special report – how polluted are New Zealand’s rivers?

Green Party:  The Taniwha of the Tarawera

Radio NZ:  Cattle in Otago rivers OK – DoC

Previous related blogposts

New Zealand – we’re in the sh*t

TDB Investigation into what is happening in our water

Election ’17 Countdown: The Promise of Nirvana to come

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Nick smith another swimmable river

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= fs =

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15 Comments

  1. Mike the Lefty says:

    National’s theme tune for the next election should the tune “Spinning, Spinning, Spinning”, a hit for the 60s NZ band The Simple Image.
    The lyrics are quite simple “And now we’re spinning, spinning, spinning, to the magic land!”
    How appropriate.

  2. XRAY says:

    Since the horrendous state of our waterways became public, it’s when I see the Fonterra brand I automatically think of polluted rivers. (Actually I also think of being ripped off by them too)

    Ironically their “Dairy for life” motto comes with a fair bit of death attached to maximise return to shareholders!

  3. CLEANGREEN says:

    EXCELLENT POST FRANK.

    Mike Joy is our saviour from calamity as I have had several exchanges with him on road -runoff pollution which is the most hazardous pollution no-one in Government or any agency dealing with public health but Mike Joy is well aware of this “hidden pollutant you and I are drinking as road -runoff is entering our roadside steams into our lakes, rivers and aquifers as we write this blog.

    FRANK; I have been chemically poisoned in 1992 IN A WORKPLACE ACCIDENT and am still fighting to stay alive while this toxic Government is hiding this factual evidence they themselves are causing all our health to get worse!!!

    Consider that on just in one 24hr period the toxic cancer and nervous system damaging chemicals called 1,3, Butadiene and styrene both found in our tyre dust collects a massive amount of 9 kgs along each one km length of a road carrying 20 000 vehicles each day 24hr period!!!!

    RAIL ROLLING STOCK HAS NO TYRES = NO TYRE POLLUTION!!!!!

    Our Environmental monitoring company is picking tyre dust up our air pollution sampling units sampling air quality even as far away as 300 meters from a busy highway now and trucks with up to 32 tyres shed 100 times of each car!!!!

    So while government are closing down our rural rail lines that carry vast amounts of our export freight they are the most criminal of all in our society that are purposefully killing many of us all each and every single day and they have been warned by us as has the media but have yet to respond to our multiple letters warning them that we know of this as the most significant “public health issue of our day.”

    Mike Joy is one of a very few who are speaking out about such pollutants along with NIWA who have mentioned tyre dust as one of the worst most toxic components that run-off from roads.

    Government MUST RESTORE ALL REGIONAL RAIL SERVICES RTO MOVE ALL OUR EXPORT PRODUCTS FOR A START TO SAVE OUR HEALTH AND WATER QUALITY FRANK.

    NO MORE NAVEL GRAZING GOVERNMENT!!!!!! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

    NZTA have two bulletins on tyre dust and brake and clutch dust run-off on their foiles so why has government not recognised using truck freight through urban regions is bad practice????

    CLEANGREEN says:
    JULY 22, 2016 AT 2:22 PM
    Full support here as these chemicals are killing and maiming people in insidious ways with impunity.

    Chemical Companies while seeming to be environmentally friendly while they keep sending these toxic endocrine disrupting chemicals intro the environment killing every living cell and store their toxins in our bodies until we die prematurely so we need to force government action on all chemicals not only microbeads.

    But also we also stop toxic 1,3 butadiene styrene tyre dust from road runoff into our drains streams rivers and into our oceans and then also entering our bodies as we drive or live by any busy road!!!!!!!!!

    As 9kgs tyre dust sediment per day collect per km on any road carrying around 20,000 cars around a busy road!!!

    http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2012/07/31/3554997.htm

    If any trucks are on those roads one truck with 28-32 tyres produce 100 times more then a car so we need to put truck freight back on rail as Julie Ann Genter correctly say’s we need to do.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/80317784/Green-Party-transport-policy-Get-rid-of-trucks-move-freight-to-rail-and-sea

    CLEANGREEN says:
    JULY 22, 2016 AT 2:22 PM
    Full support here as these chemicals are killing and maiming people in insidious ways with impunity.

    Chemical Companies while seeming to be environmentally friendly while they keep sending these toxic endocrine disrupting chemicals intro the environment killing every living cell and store their toxins in our bodies until we die prematurely so we need to force government action on all chemicals not only microbeads.

    But also we also stop toxic 1,3 butadiene styrene tyre dust from road runoff into our drains streams rivers and into our oceans and then also entering our bodies as we drive or live by any busy road!!!!!!!!!

    As 9kgs tyre dust sediment per day collect per km on any road carrying around 20,000 cars around a busy road!!!

    http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2012/07/31/3554997.htm

    If any trucks are on those roads one truck with 28-32 tyres produce 100 times more then a car so we need to put truck freight back on rail as Julie Ann Genter correctly say’s we need to do.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/80317784/Green-Party-transport-policy-Get-rid-of-trucks-move-freight-to-rail-and-sea

    NZ First have the most riveting rail policy of any political Party today with their (RONI) “Rail’s of National Importance” policy on their website good for NZ First we support them 100%.
    All regional rail systems that are not connected they will build new links to re-connect the rail services in each province to the NZ rail network to make it fully functional again.

    TRUCKS ALL HAVE MULTIPLE TYRES EACH AND RAIL ONLY HAVE STEEL WHEELS!!!! = NO TOXIC POLLUTION HERE.

  4. WILD KATIPO says:

    Shameful that any creeks , rivers , lakes and other bodies of water have been let to go this way. Especially in this day and age.

    When I was a kid during the 1970’s in Huia ( Waitakere Ranges ) those deep dark forests were my second home . I just took it for granted I could drink from any of the creeks , never carried a water bottle when I bush crashed – didn’t need to.

    And to think so many of our large waterways have been allowed to become so degraded. That’s disgusting.

  5. Afewknowthetruth says:

    Everything the government says is either an outright lie in itself or is founded on a lie.

    Of course mass tourism is a very short-term aberration in the grand scheme of things, a very short-lived phenomenon which is utterly dependent on outlandishly high levels of consumption of fossil fuels: it naturally follows, sure as night follows day, that tourism will disappear in the very near future as the one-time ‘bonus’ of cheap oil gets seriously depleted and reaches a critical point….almost certainly by 2025 and extremely likely before 2020 (peak conventional oil having occurred in 2007 and the system now propped up by unconventional oil with a low EROEI).

    Needless to say, the government and the idiotic bureaucrats that manipulate NZ society for their own short-term ends are firmly locked into denial of reality and insist that NZ spend a grossly disproportionate amount of resource its limited resources promoting tourism and installing ‘infrastructure’ that will have no utility whatsoever in the near future.

    The money-lender corporatized industrial system demands stupidity, and politicians and bureaucrats never fail to deliver a continuous stream of stupidity, driving further and further away from where we need to be as a society.

    A reminder of what is now on the horizon:

    ‘Brace for the oil, food and financial crash of 2018
    80% of the world’s oil has peaked, and the resulting oil crunch will flatten the economy’

    https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/brace-for-the-financial-crash-of-2018-b2f81f85686b

  6. Otto Mann says:

    Any reasonable person watching that TNZ vid would assume that drinking from our waterways is safe and our water “100% pure”.
    Little do they know the toxic garbage we spew into our rivers and lakes on a daily basis.

    It is only a matter of time before visiting tourists become sick or worse, killed by an ecoli infection. Elderly tourists and children are most susceptible.
    Then watch Minister Bennet scramble to cover her well-fed ass.

    This is a ticking timebomb.

    Well done Frank for highlighting this.

  7. bert says:

    100% Pure Bullshit!

  8. mosa says:

    Good work Frank on this post.

    This 100% clean and green campaign must be one of the greatest works of fiction ever dreamt up and the government is still selling it as fact to niaive tourists.

    The image of the lady about to drink the water she is standing in is irresponsible and downright dangerous and putting the lives of these people at risk.

    Its bullshit and not all of it ends up in our rivers and streams , its pouring out of the Beehive as well.

    • Priss says:

      “…The image of the lady about to drink the water she is standing in is irresponsible and downright dangerous and putting the lives of these people at risk….”

      I thinkl you’re spot on, Mosa. Wait till a tourist gets seriously ill with an infection or even , god forbid, dies. We’ve seen what happened in Havelock North and if that’s not a dire warning for the Nats then they really do have their heads stuck in the sand. The clock is ticking.

      This will damage our tourism industry.

  9. Jack Ramaka says:

    Our waterways are cess pits for the dairy and manufacturing industries and Governments and Local Councils turn a blind eye to it.

  10. Marcus says:

    When tourists start drinking water like this they will get sick. They and their travel insurance companies will start asking questions and Tourism NZ may well end up being sued for false advertising.
    That won’t do NZ’s overseas image much good, will it?

  11. John Stroh says:

    Frank, so are you implying that Labour and the Greens will do any better? The recent article http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/93965507/labour-abandons-water-and-nutrient-charging-policy-for-farming suggests that Mr Little (if not the Labour Party as a whole) will not improve on National and will not be influenced by the Greens on this most fundamental of environmental issues. So if the Greens cannot influence Labour, a vote for the Greens is a wasted vote in my book. And voting for Mr Little is counter-intuitive. I find it hard to understand what Little is trying to convey most of the time, but here I think the message is clear: Labour supports Fed Farmers in its neo-liberal rampage across our environment. Yes?

    • WILD KATIPO says:

      Erm ,… National is the current incumbents… and have been so for the last 9 years…

      And I daresay it wouldn’t be hard to improve on their negligent destructive efforts, especially with both Labour and the Greens being far more in touch with , and open to what people are saying ,… and if having the Greens as part of the next government doesn’t improve matters, nothing will.

    • bert says:

      So you suggest staying with the status quo, which borders on corruption. While you attack the left block you seem to be condoning National’s approach. Forget the left block and tell me what you expect National to do, because right now, they are doing nothing. Pollution is the only game in town and you know as well as I do, that National won’t upset the farmers at the expense of recreational water users.

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