Fonterra sticks with high pollution goal of increasing milk supply

dairy_cows_on_the_taieri_photo_by_neal_wallace____4cad8a8b61 (002)

This week’s reported comments by Fonterra chair John Wilson that dairy “volumes were only going to keep increasing”  are troubling. Mr Wilson was supporting a potential renegotiation of the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Under the FTA dairy products such as whole milk powder attract higher tariffs when volume thresholds are reached, often early in […]

Continue reading


If your head’s in the sand, watch out for the rising tide

Melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet mean we need to move now to prepare for rising seas

Photo credit: Christopher Michel https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Old habits die hard. National’s knee-jerk response to experts who are forecasting unprecedented sea level rise caused by climate change has been to deny it’s a problem New Zealanders should be concerned about. Finance Minister Bill English said the National Government won’t be looking into this risk any time soon as “it’s a bit speculative” […]

Continue reading


The dairy downturn

dairy_cows_on_the_taieri_photo_by_neal_wallace____4cad8a8b61 (002)

It was interesting in Parliament this week, listening to the Prime Minister repeatedly say “I don’t know” to straightforward questions from Green co-leader James Shaw about the effect the dairy downturn will have on farmers, small businesses and rural retailers dependent on a good price on milk solids for their prosperity. In fact, his admission […]

Continue reading


New marine protection proposals short change our oceans

ocean

The National Government’s proposed overhaul of the Marine Reserves Act 1971 falls well short of what is needed to promote sustainable oceans and fisheries management. New Zealand’s geological history and long geographic isolation means we have an incredibly diverse marine environment with different habitats ranging from subtropical regions such as the Kermadec Islands to the […]

Continue reading


Marching for our climate

Climate March NZ 2015

Being part of the People’s Climate March in Otautahi/Christchurch on Saturday felt like being part of something special, and something quite remarkable because we were part of the world’s largest climate mobilisation involving more than 600,000 citizens. Around 3,000 people gathered beneath the trees and on the grass in Christchurch’s Victoria Square just as thousands […]

Continue reading


Fonterra is waking up to the risks of unsustainable dairy feed

It was good news to hear recently that Fonterra has begun to recognise the potential brand damage from dairy farmers moving away from grass-based milk production to rely on unsustainable supplementary feeds such as Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE). Fonterra are establishing and issuing voluntary  guidelines about PKE for farmers to maintain the competitive advantage that […]

Continue reading


Environment misses out under National’s science investment strategy

Environmental research continues to be the poor cousin in the Government’s National Science Investment Strategy (NSIS) receiving the least of the five major science sectors in 2014 with no commitment to increase future funding for the sector; in contrast with all the other major research sectors. The NSIS promises increased spending on research in manufacturing, […]

Continue reading


Public want regional democracy in Canterbury – Govt decides otherwise

Last week the National Government announced it won’t restore regional democracy in Canterbury until 2019. Instead it’s imposing a bizarre hybrid model of seven elected and six Government appointed members from 2016-2019.   This will allow Ministers in the Beehive to continue to dominate the regional council, and influence water management that promotes irrigation and intensive […]

Continue reading


Harbour infilling being fast tracked in Lyttelton

In Auckland there was a justifiable public uproar about the Auckland Port Company’s plans to extend Bledisloe Wharf and occupy valuable parts of the Waitemata. Auckland Council intervened to scale back the proposal. Meanwhile, in democracy deprived Canterbury, the Lyttelton Port Company (LPC) wants to fill in 27 hectares of Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour – that’s the […]

Continue reading


Saying it Loud on Climate in Christchurch

The Government’s Christchurch consultation meeting on New Zealand’s emission targets was inspiring – not for what was in the Ministry for the Environment’s (MFE’s) defeatist video about the obstacles to changing to a low carbon future, but for what the people said. Hundreds came and people were still wanting to speak two hours later when […]

Continue reading


The high costs of weak environmental regulation

Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere is described on the Department of Conservation website as “Canterbury’s largest and New Zealand’s fifth largest [lake], and an internationally important wildlife area.” But the lake is also polluted by nutrients leaching from farms in the catchment. At times toxic algal blooms make it unsafe to swim in and a danger to […]

Continue reading


Better consultation needed on Christchurch asset sales

The Christchurch City Council (CCC) should be promoting wide and genuine public consultation on its draft ten year budget and plan given the serious implications for the city’s future of its proposed asset sales, outlined in the plan. Instead, it is being unduly restrictive by limiting submissions on the Long Term Plan to the traditional […]

Continue reading


Vanishing Nature: A must-read for all New Zealanders

Forest_FEATUREIMAGE

The Environmental Defence Society’s new book Vanishing Nature – facing New Zealand’s biodiversity crisis, should be read by every New Zealander concerned about our native plants and wildlife and striking natural landscapes; and particularly by Government Ministers before Budget Day on 21 May. The book authored by Marie Brown, Theo Stephens, Raewyn Peart and Bevis […]

Continue reading


The Indignant Kiwi: Why we need to do more to protect our national bird

A kiwi, about to be released into the wild, was first introduced to Prime Minister John Key and German Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel on her recent visit to New Zealand. By all reports, Dr Merkel was delighted to meet the rather indignant bird. This indignation, according to the NZ Herald, was due to them interrupting the bird’s sleep but […]

Continue reading


Urgent end to commercial fishing of longfin eel needed

US based illustrator and artist Stephanie Bowman and Massey University ecologist Dr Mike Joy presented to Parliament’s Primary Production select committee today in support of Stephanie and Maanaki Tuna’s petition signed by more than 6,000 people to protect the threatened longfin eel. As Stephanie told the committee, “I know that many commercial interests would tell […]

Continue reading


National restarts logging in West Coast forests

Forest_FEATUREIMAGE

The chainsaws stopped in native forest on public land in 1999 after a strong campaign by non-governmental organisations such as Forest and Bird and Native Forest Action (NFA), supported by the Green Party. Immediately after the 1999 election, the incoming Labour Government directed SOE and government forestry company, Timberlands West Coast Ltd to end its […]

Continue reading


Councils need to better protect our drinking water

Environment Canterbury (ECan) is proposing several variations to its regional land and water plan that will allow for increased nutrient and other pollution from irrigation and intensive agriculture on the Canterbury Plains. Commissioners are hearing submissions on Variation 1 to the proposed Land and Water Plan and I popped along to listen. Variation 1 covers […]

Continue reading


Subsidising more pollution will undermine water clean-up plan at Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere

In 2010, NIWA found Canterbury’s Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere had the worst nutrient status of 140 lakes around New Zealand that it measured. In 2011, the National Government committed to spending $15 million across the country through the Fresh Start for Fresh Water: New Initiatives Fund. This was “to address the problem of poor freshwater quality […]

Continue reading


The Waitaki River needs our help

Environment Canterbury (ECan) is proposing a major change to the Waitaki Catchment Water Allocation Regional Plan. This change would reduce the river’s minimum flow by a third (from 150 to 102 cubic meters per second) for periods over the summer. A lower minimum flow risks even poorer water quality, more didymo infestation, increased predation of braided riverbed birds nesting […]

Continue reading