Politicians might have to carry out a river-crossing to get to work today.
Greenpeace is creating a fifty metre long waterway* on parliament lawn, as part of its campaign to save New Zealand rivers.
At 1.15pm the environmental organisation will hand the Government a massive petition signed by 68,313 people.
The Minister for the Environment, David Parker and Associate Minister Eugenie Sage will receive the petition which calls for an end to state funding of big irrigation.
“Big irrigation schemes means more intensive dairy farms,” says Greenpeace campaigner, Gen Toop. “More cows equals more pollution in our rivers.”
Unlike it’s predecessor, the newly formed Government has revealed it will not be supporting or funding irrigation schemes in future. This fulfills a pledge made by both Labour and the Greens in the run up to the election.
“This Government’s commitment to ditch funding and support for big irrigation is a huge win for our rivers and the people who have been working hard to protect them” says Toop.
However, Irrigation NZ, the irrigation industry’s lobby group, have publicly indicatedthat they are eyeing up the Government’s newly created $1billion regional development fund.
“Despite huge public opposition to these polluting schemes, the big irrigation lobby is already putting its hand back out to the new Government for taxpayer money from the billion dollar regional development fund.”
“Enough is enough. There are already too many cows in New Zealand.”
“This new Government must turn down the irrigation lobbyists and keep to it’s word ’about ditching funding and support for big irrigation altogether.”
There has been a groundswell of local campaigning and a series of peaceful protests against big irrigation schemes.
Ruataniwha dam, the most high profile project was mothballed earlier this year, after intense local opposition.
“Tens of thousands of New Zealanders have campaigned to save our rivers from big irrigation schemes. This kind of public momentum cannot be ignored and will continue if irrigation is funded through other means.”
Greenpeace, along with sixteen other organisations, is calling on the Government to redirect irrigation funds towards investment in a nationwide transition from intensive dairying to more diverse, regenerative farming models.
“The only way to enjoy clean rivers and pure drinking water is to have fewer cows and a nationwide move to regenerative farming. We hope the new Government will look to the future and invest in this environmentally sound transition.”
*NB It is a symbolic river made of material rather than an actual river with water.