Swimmable Rivers tour – Waikirikiri/Selwyn

Catherine at Selwyn Huts - River algae

This week, we had our second stop on our Swimmable Rivers tour, this time in Canterbury at the Waikirikiri/Selwyn River. I had a great day with our two Canterbury MPs Eugenie Sage and Mojo Mathers and our amazing Christchurch staff. The Waikirikiri/ Selwyn rivers runs from the hills to Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere through the plains. […]

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Havelock North outbreak – what might have caused it

Tukituki River.
Credit: Ulrich Lange, Dunedin, New Zealand - Wikimedia Commons

The cause of the contamination in Havelock’s water remains unclear. It has been established that bacterial contamination from a ruminant animal (cow, deer, or sheep) resulted in people becoming ill. We also know heavy rain and surface flooding occurred just before the outbreak, and prior to that warm and dry conditions had caused cracks to form […]

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The Government’s fresh water reforms aren’t so fresh after all

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 […]

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TPPA people power protests

The protests against the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) yesterday were an energetic show of people power. It was great to see such a big turnout – at least 15,000 in Auckland by some estimates. That’s a lot of people not buying the National Government’s spin on the TPPA. I was at the Auckland protests […]

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Reflections from the Inquiry on Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Autism in Schools

This year I had a huge breakthrough in getting the Education and Science Select Committee to open an inquiry to investigate the identification of and support for students facing the significant challenges of dyslexia, dyspraxia, and autism spectrum disorders. We put the call out for submissions and were overwhelmed by the response. On the very […]

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Holding onto Pacific Culture and Language?

The Minister for Pacific Affairs is supporting the value of Tuvalu’s language and culture this week – but in words, not deeds. Despite Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga stating he’s “committed to creating opportunities to share and promote Pacific cultures,” the value of Pacific heritage is consistently being undermined. A single celebratory week does little to […]

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Professional development of teachers will fix poverty, huh?

The Minister of Education Hekia Parata recently acknowledged the hardship of “persistent under underachievement and poor employment outcomes”. Her solution is to roll out targeted Professional Learning and Development (PLD) for teachers in Northland and East Coast. Like Hekia, I think PLD is very important, but we don’t think that targeting the teachers in regions […]

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Coromandel rallies against the TPPA

  On Wednesday, John Key visited the southern Coromandel area with local National MP Scott Simpson and was challenged by citizens who spontaneously organised protests against the Government position on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). I went down to Waihi expecting a handful of people but in fact there were 50 locals, many of […]

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Dairy conversions causing more pollution than ever, report shows

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) released two reports on freshwater quality and management last Friday. The water quality report shows that dairy conversions are hurting water quality and says that despite great efforts with fencing and planting, large increases in cow numbers are resulting in excess nitrogen and thus pollution in water ways. […]

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Smarter thinking, not bigger thinking, needed to manage our water resources

Right now there is a perfect storm for some farmers, but no rain. Drought and commodity prices are hitting hard and creating stress. This is not a new experience, but if drought in particular becomes the new normal, pressure on water resources will increase. It is a challenge to everyone but particularly in Canterbury and […]

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Dirty dairying: more cows at the expense of clean water

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Last week, another dairy farmer, this time in Taranaki, was fined $66,000 for recidivist water pollution when he discharged cow effluent into groundwater and a stream. The judge said the farmer’s offending was “wilful, blind and his attitude was negligent in the extreme”. Despite Federated Farmers saying this was terribly unusual, this farmer is not […]

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