Parliament’s Local Government and Environment Committee has made many changes to the Kermadec/Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary Bill in response to public submissions, particularly submissions from iwi authorities and Te Ohu Kaimoana. Read the amended Bill and the select committee’s full report here . The Green Party’s report The Green Party supports the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill (the […]
We need to talk about Bill English’s repeated accusations that planning is responsible for stratospherically high house prices and inequality, and about the opportunity the Auckland Unitary Plan has to get housing back on the right track. Ever since he wrote the forward to Demographia’s 2013 annual housing affordability survey, our Minister of Finance has […]
The Ruamahānga is a beautiful river, much loved by those who live near it. But it faces many pressures. South of Masterton, the river is affected by sewage issues and land use intensification that have reduced water clarity and made the river unsafe for swimming, particularly at The Cliffs, a scenic spot near a vineyard straight out of a tourist brochure. Unfortunately, the water has a D rating. You risk getting a nasty bug if you put your head under.
Kiwis are going solar in record numbers to escape rising power bills and get a degree of energy freedom, but the electricity industry is using a host of tactics to try and discourage them.
In 2011, I negotiated an agreement with the National Government to advance work on cleaning up contaminated sites across the country. This included establishing a National Register of the ten worst sites where the creators of the problem could not be held accountable.
For many New Zealanders the loss of swimmable rivers and the effects of intensive agriculture are big issues and they want it cleaned up. William Rolleston is running lines that no one believes and which do Federated Farmers reputation no good at all. Denying that 62 percent of our monitored rivers are too dirty for safe swimming is pointless.
National’s desperate to be seen to be doing something about the housing crisis but giving property developers a more permissive regime for new subdivision is not the answer.
Saving rivers cannot be put in the too hard basket and I am looking forward to meeting water activists across country so we can support your efforts. Clean water is well worth this effort, it’s essential that we clean up rivers and make them swimmable again!
Environment Minister Nick Smith and the National Government appear to have bowed to pressure from mining lobbyists to change the law to help seabed mining companies. In 2013 Trans-Tasman Resources applied for a marine consent under the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) legislation to mine 66 km² of the seabed for iron ore off the South […]
If you read the news there are a lot of terrifying climate change reports being published but a new global resurvey of clean energy just out should give us some hope. Last year was a record year for clean energy globally according to the latest annual Renewables Global Status Report published this week. We are […]
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been making a big deal about cuts to Conservation funding and the impact they are having on the work the Department of Conservation is charged with doing. Yet Maggie Barry, the Minister of Conservation, says I’ve got it all wrong. So I thought a review might be in order.
This week I hosted a public meeting at EIT in Hawkes Bay to discuss how we might put a price on the commercial use of water, so that water may be valued and treated more sustainably. I invited a great panel of speakers from a range of backgrounds. I was unsure how concerned people would […]
New Zealand’s national electricity grid stretches the length of the country and contains some 11,803 kilometres of high-voltage lines and 178 substations. It wouldn’t make sense for competing power companies to duplicate and build their own expensive electricity transmission system so we have a single provider, a monopoly called Transpower, which is meant to be […]
The National Government’s Resource Legislation Bill has been described as making the most fundamental changes to the RMA since it was passed in 1991. It’s a complicated and technical bill which makes 40 changes to six different Acts, including the RMA. Sir Geoffrey Palmer, the original architect of the RMA has identified, “at least three […]
Energy Minister Simon Bridges revealed in Parliament this week he has no idea what majority state-owned power companies are up to, when he wrongly claimed that Genesis Energy would not burn coal at Huntly unless there was a shortage of renewable electricity. Was it ignorance or a smokescreen? Responding to Genesis Energy’s decision to backtrack […]
Last Saturday, my colleague Eugenie Sage took me for a drive across the Canterbury Plains. I had seen from the air the landuse changes across the plains in recent times; a patchwork of crops and stock raising has been transformed into a green desert. Driving through, the treeless expanses are vast. The paddocks are dominated […]
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” […]
This week, I went to Wairoa and met people affected by the Waihi dam failure and the huge impact of silt build up on the waterways. This disaster started last year when the Waihi dam behind Wairoa sluice gate broke and tonnes of built-up silt poured into the river. The main damage occurred between November and January, […]
Imagine this: you are in a cage so small you cannot even turn around. In a building with hundreds of other mothers also confined in cages. Something goes wrong nearby and thick choking smoke fills the building followed by a rapid increase in stifling heat. You can hear the frantic screams of your neighbours. Panic […]
This week, Fonterra’s application to expand its milk-drying factory and burn more coal at Studholme, in South Canterbury, is being put to the test. The local council is considering the application and hearing from people who’ve asked to make submissions. It might come as a surprise to many people that Fonterra is one of New […]
If you had a trillion dollars to spend on energy, would you invest it in burning coal for electricity? Well that’s exactly what is slated to happen internationally, according to a new report. The report, published by Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and CoalSwarm, explains that coal-generating capacity equal to 1,500 coal plants is either in […]
Yesterday, a petition of more than 12,000 people was presented to us at Parliament calling for clean water and swimmable rivers. The groups who presented it were Choose Clean Water, Hīkoi Wai Tapu and the Kura Kaupapa Māori o Whakarewa i te reo ki Tūwharetoa. They had travelled from Turangi, walking much of the way […]
When Nick Smith was questioned about the fact that overseas-owned companies can export freshwater they have bottled for free here in NZ, he answered that there is plenty of water, and at the moment there are only a few companies involved. Our most precious resource and indeed necessity is being bottled and sold offshore for […]
Over the last several years the European Union has been working on reducing waste and as a result many European countries are looking at how to meet the ambitious goal of reducing food waste by 50 per cent by 2025. France is tackling food waste with laws that will make it illegal for shops of […]
Last week I went up to Paekakariki to visit Flo McNeill who is a driving force in the “Friends of Wainui Stream”. This stream is a beautiful example of community effort of riparian planting and healthy population of native fish and tuna (eels). The water looks clean, although running pretty low at the moment and […]
Last weekend the Government put out a consultation document on cleaning up freshwater called Next Steps for Fresh Water. it has have to look like it’s doing something big, because we are now at a crisis point with water quality. However we are disappointed in the plans, which lack some fundamental and essential commitments to […]
In his recent article (‘NZ Climate Change Bill One of the Biggest in the Developed World’, Politik, 19 Feb.), Richard Harman accurately quotes NZ climate ambassador, Jo Tyndall, in advising Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee that, to use her words, “It’s going to cost New Zealand more, in terms of total cost to the economy, to […]
First published in The Press on 1 February 2016 A work colleague recently asked me which rivers and lakes I’d recommend she take her son and nephew swimming during an upcoming visit to Christchurch, somewhere handy to the city. I was embarrassed to email back that she would have to drive for over an […]
This summer there have already been many news items about lakes and rivers being tested for cyanobacteria, a type of potentially toxic algae, which have killed dogs and are potentially lethal to humans. These algae blooms increase when the water levels are lower and the temperatures increase, and areas where there is drought will be […]
As the ink dries on the Paris Agreement concluded in December, the significance of the event is now being weighed up. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are extremes in views. At one and the same time, it is an ‘historic moment of hope for humanity’; it goes ‘nowhere near far enough’; and it is even a ‘fraud’. […]
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 […]
The highlight of my year would have to be the success of our campaign to save bees. Bees work hard for us pollinating the crops we eat, but right now they need us to put in some effort on their behalf too. Many New Zealanders could be unwittingly using pesticides called neonicotinoids in their gardens […]
I had that cough virus three times this year and burst my eardrum. I spent too much being cross with the Government and not enough time exercising. I ate far too much chocolate after Question Time and got distracted from key tasks by trying to be clever on Twitter. However in many ways it has […]
In my maiden speech to Parliament I said that affirming indigenous rights and supporting our traditional wisdoms is ESSENTIAL to combatting climate change. With the signing of the Paris climate agreement I am surer of that than ever. Around the world indigenous people are at the forefront of the fight to shut down dangerous fossil […]
It only took outgoing Climate Change Minister Tim Groser a few hours after the Paris climate talks to throw cold water over any idea that the National Government might have been inspired to turn over a new leaf on climate policy. Groser spoke to
They glide quietly through our streets, but if Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) has its way, our electric trolley buses could glide into the history books. They are an iconic feature of our city and the debate on their future should be more prominent than the current quiet discussions. In June last year GWRC decided […]
There are many shortcomings a committed climate hawk (of which, I am one) could find with the COP21 Paris agreement. There is no legally binding commitment to reduce climate pollution, for example. But the agreement is nonetheless a landmark event. All the countries of the world have signed up to an agreement to limit global […]
We have an agreement. And not just any agreement – an agreement with potential, full of hope for what the future can achieve, and with a clear directive to world governments telling them that they must step up on climate action. More than anything, the agreement is indicative of a change in political will, and […]
A new draft agreement was released this morning, with delegates given only two and a half hours to read it before they had to be on form and ready to debate its contents. Options are being whittled away, pages are being dropped, and the all-important language feels as impenetrable as ever. So, beyond the high-level […]
A few weeks ago the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) called for submissions about proposed changes to the classifications and subsequent rules around organisms developed using chemical and radiation treatments and that may be considered products of genetic modification (GE/GMO). Background For many years some plant breeding especially, has used chemical or radiation mutagenesis treatments to […]