Rally calls for cleaner water

‘We need to speak up for our mokopuna, for the future’

‘We need to speak up for our mokopuna, for the future’

CLEAN WATER RALLY: Renee Tahuri and Juanita Herbert were among about 80 at the rally yesterday calling for clean water. Pictures by Rebecca Grunwell
Renee Tahuria and Juanita Herbert get their messages across.
Azrael Lloyd and Te Rei Forbes rally for water.
Getting the message across.
Youngsters will inherit a mess or clean waterways; it's up to us. Here Kuihi O'Neill joins the rally.

EROSION problems, over-allocated waterways and river pollution in the Gisborne district were all put under the microscope yesterday during a rally for clean water.

About 80 people, including a range of environmental advocates, school children, councillors and the public joined the rally at Heipipi Endeavour Park at midday.

“Tiaki te wai — protect our water” and “He ora te wai — water is life” were just a few of the messages painted across colourful signs, held by young and old and cheered on by passing cars and trucks.

Waiata and haka by Te Kura Kaupapa Maori Nga Uri a Maui set the scene for the rally, which had a general theme of protecting water for future generations.

The group joined rallies gathered at 21 councils around the country to support NZ Water Forum founder Jen Branje’s 16,000-strong petition to Parliament calling on the Government to place a moratorium on bottled water exports.

“Even the rain showed up to show us this is important,” Gisborne District councillor Meredith Akuhata-Brown told the crowd as the rain came down.

She stressed the importance of engaging in both local and national politics.

“The Government has moved the goalposts rather than clean up our waterways,” she said in reference to the Government’s new freshwater policy that increased the amount of E.coli allowed in a waterway to be classed swimmable.

“It is election year, time for your voice to be heard loud and clear.

“The river has a mauri, life force, and we are hurting that mauri, killing it.”

At a district level, people could make submissions and attend consultation hui on the annual and long- term plans, which begin next week.

“The council needs your voice.”

Forestry problems

Wastewater and erosion from forestry were big issues, she said.

“Forestry is good for the region but at what cost?

“Wastewater comes up in heavy rain through peoples’ gully traps. That should never happen. We are not living in a third world country.”

Freshwater advocate Murray Palmer encouraged people to participate in the council planning processes to make sure water was valued not just economically, but for its social, cultural and ecological values.

Whatatutu artist and teacher Tawera Tahuri spoke about her 320-kilometre hikoi last year from Turangi to Parliament to support a petition calling for the Government to increase previous minimum freshwater standards.

These new standards were “a joke”.

Tawera Tahurihe said she was inspired to take action regarding a negative water test on the Urukokomuka Stream near Whatatutu

“We swim there, we live there, we have spiritual experiences there. The whole of Whatatutu go there over summer. I want my mokopuna to be able to do that too.”

Forestry, the Tarndale slip and agriculture were all affecting water quality and quantity.

“I am not saying farmers are at fault but practices need to change.

“There are too many cows in New Zealand. Where is all that poo going?

“We need to speak up for our mokopuna, for the future. Take our role as kaitiaki seriously and get involved in water testing ourselves.”

Standing rock parallels

Marcus Lloyd, who lives at Whatatutu where the Mangatu River flows into the Waipaoa River, spoke of parallels with his experience at Standing Rock.

“Worldwide, millions of people are standing up for water.

“The Waipaoa River is clogged. Those are the arteries that supply life to the region but they are blocked by erosion. We need to connect them back to Mother Earth.”

Mareikura Waka Ama Club’s Orohena Brightwell said waka ama had been in Gisborne 33 years.

In her 27 years paddling the Waimata River, she had seen the water change.

“It was a beautiful turquoise when we began.

Now sometimes it is so green it is glowing. We have been out when there have been sewage overflows, and the water is brown and putrid.”

Some club members had experienced infections. One ended up in hospital.

“We want to be able to do this for another 33 years and more.”

Green Party candidate for Ikaroa Rawhiti Elizabeth Kerekere said the National Government would not look after this issue.

“They will not look after Maori.”

The petition presented to Parliament calling for a moratorium on bottled water exports was rejected by Environment Minister Nick Smith, who said water exports made up a very small percentage of New Zealand’s water use.

EROSION problems, over-allocated waterways and river pollution in the Gisborne district were all put under the microscope yesterday during a rally for clean water.

About 80 people, including a range of environmental advocates, school children, councillors and the public joined the rally at Heipipi Endeavour Park at midday.

“Tiaki te wai — protect our water” and “He ora te wai — water is life” were just a few of the messages painted across colourful signs, held by young and old and cheered on by passing cars and trucks.

Waiata and haka by Te Kura Kaupapa Maori Nga Uri a Maui set the scene for the rally, which had a general theme of protecting water for future generations.

The group joined rallies gathered at 21 councils around the country to support NZ Water Forum founder Jen Branje’s 16,000-strong petition to Parliament calling on the Government to place a moratorium on bottled water exports.

“Even the rain showed up to show us this is important,” Gisborne District councillor Meredith Akuhata-Brown told the crowd as the rain came down.

She stressed the importance of engaging in both local and national politics.

“The Government has moved the goalposts rather than clean up our waterways,” she said in reference to the Government’s new freshwater policy that increased the amount of E.coli allowed in a waterway to be classed swimmable.

“It is election year, time for your voice to be heard loud and clear.

“The river has a mauri, life force, and we are hurting that mauri, killing it.”

At a district level, people could make submissions and attend consultation hui on the annual and long- term plans, which begin next week.

“The council needs your voice.”

Forestry problems

Wastewater and erosion from forestry were big issues, she said.

“Forestry is good for the region but at what cost?

“Wastewater comes up in heavy rain through peoples’ gully traps. That should never happen. We are not living in a third world country.”

Freshwater advocate Murray Palmer encouraged people to participate in the council planning processes to make sure water was valued not just economically, but for its social, cultural and ecological values.

Whatatutu artist and teacher Tawera Tahuri spoke about her 320-kilometre hikoi last year from Turangi to Parliament to support a petition calling for the Government to increase previous minimum freshwater standards.

These new standards were “a joke”.

Tawera Tahurihe said she was inspired to take action regarding a negative water test on the Urukokomuka Stream near Whatatutu

“We swim there, we live there, we have spiritual experiences there. The whole of Whatatutu go there over summer. I want my mokopuna to be able to do that too.”

Forestry, the Tarndale slip and agriculture were all affecting water quality and quantity.

“I am not saying farmers are at fault but practices need to change.

“There are too many cows in New Zealand. Where is all that poo going?

“We need to speak up for our mokopuna, for the future. Take our role as kaitiaki seriously and get involved in water testing ourselves.”

Standing rock parallels

Marcus Lloyd, who lives at Whatatutu where the Mangatu River flows into the Waipaoa River, spoke of parallels with his experience at Standing Rock.

“Worldwide, millions of people are standing up for water.

“The Waipaoa River is clogged. Those are the arteries that supply life to the region but they are blocked by erosion. We need to connect them back to Mother Earth.”

Mareikura Waka Ama Club’s Orohena Brightwell said waka ama had been in Gisborne 33 years.

In her 27 years paddling the Waimata River, she had seen the water change.

“It was a beautiful turquoise when we began.

Now sometimes it is so green it is glowing. We have been out when there have been sewage overflows, and the water is brown and putrid.”

Some club members had experienced infections. One ended up in hospital.

“We want to be able to do this for another 33 years and more.”

Green Party candidate for Ikaroa Rawhiti Elizabeth Kerekere said the National Government would not look after this issue.

“They will not look after Maori.”

The petition presented to Parliament calling for a moratorium on bottled water exports was rejected by Environment Minister Nick Smith, who said water exports made up a very small percentage of New Zealand’s water use.

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Ian Thornton - 8 months ago
I fully support Nick Smith's pragmatic approach to improving the quality of freshwater in New Zealand. Dairy farming is only part of the problem. Gisborne city's sewerage system and sewage treatment probably needs $100 million spent to bring it up to standard, and rates will go up to pay for it. Councils all over NZ have failed to upgrade sewage disposal systems as populations have increased.
Dairy farmers have spent over a billion dollars over the past few years to vastly improve their environmental footprint. It is farcical to blame dairying for water contamination at Whatatutu and also Havelock North when the nearest dairy cows are many miles away. Dairy farmers are getting sick of being the whipping boy for a problem that belongs to every human living in NZ. It will be a great day when the media starts doing some factual reporting. The papers are full of copy and paste from extreme anti-farming lobby groups.

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