Every week, I get media alerts about unhealthy water, including algae risks at swimming spots and boil water notices in small towns. It got personal the other week when I went kayaking on a river and found a rash on my arms and legs wherever I had touched the water. The rash formed small itchy […]
This year I have been focused on getting a better deal for kids and families with learning needs such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, and autism spectrum. We had a Select Committee inquiry into the issues faced, but the Government was too scared to make the recommendations needed for actual change. Despite initiating the inquiry, I was […]
The fifth river in our Swimmable Rivers tour is an urban river on the North Shore called Lucas Creek, which runs from the outer suburban edge near Paremoremo through to the Waitemata harbour. The river came to our attention when Dr Nick Smith, the Minister for the Environment, named it in Parliament as a very polluted […]
Last week Gareth and I went rafting down a rapid past local rangatahi swimming in this pristine fresh water of the upper Tarawera River.
Iain Rabbitts’ belief that drinking water quality, charging for water use and the land use that leads to water quality degradation should be treated separately is part of the problem we have right now in this country. The connection is painfully clear to the people I meet as I travel around the country, visiting rivers […]
The nationwide swimmable rivers tour went west this week to the Taranaki community of Waitara. Waitara was once a densely populated food gathering area with magnificent coastal reefs of kaimoana and a stony-bottomed tidal river full of fish.
Last Thursday the disability and education communities held a rally at Parliament calling for proper funding for inclusive education.
I had a good friend who worked at Parliament in various roles in the catering services over a number of years. I saw her almost every day. She always made me and many other people feel welcome and she went to extra effort to make sure we received quality service. She was also a really […]
We may never know exactly what happened to the Havelock North water supply, but either way, how about stopping the pollution of rivers by sewage plants and intensive agriculture?
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. […]
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 […]
This week I went to Canterbury to meet a river, the Waikirikiri/Selwyn, which flows from the hill country down to Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere through the Canterbury Plains. Mojo Mathers and local Green District Councillor for Selwyn Peter Hill took me for a drive out to Coe’s Ford as the best place to start.
Last Thursday, we carried out our first river tour day in the Swimmable Rivers campaign, in which we are calling on the Government to raise the minimum standard for rivers from wadeable to swimmable. The Ruamāhanga is the river of Metiria’s tupuna and the heart of the Wairarapa. It has some magical spots and some […]
A great Budget would embrace the challenge of our polluted rivers and move the money away from justifying the status quo water rules into cleaning up waterways. A great Budget would take the Ministry for the Environment freshwater budget and prioritise a plan for swimmable rivers.
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 […]
Most of the racist semi-abusive letters and emails that we receive at the Greens seem to be from older people. How can I tell? Possibly it’s the handwritten letters, usually from Tauranga or Canterbury, in the formal style we were taught at school many years ago. I answer these politely as the Pākehā Te Tiriti […]
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 […]
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, […]
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 […]
Last week in Honduras, gunmen killed a woman in her home as she slept. Berta Cárceres was an extraordinary leader working in a dangerous context. Her primary mission was protecting the Gualcarque river from a huge hydroelectric dam proposed by multinationals, but she stood for so much more. Berta won the Goldman Environmental Prize for […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
We want rivers and lakes that people can swim in – seems a simple enough request, doesn’t it? It’s not unreasonable that our kids and grandkids should be able to swim in lakes and rivers just like we have. However, 62 per cent of our monitored rivers are unsafe to swim in. Before we can […]
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 […]
It is easy to take teachers for granted, I know I did as a student. However, on World Teachers’ Day I want to pay tribute to the true professionals of the craft of teaching. I want to pay tribute to teachers who are conscious liberators of students and their potential whether they are 4 years […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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. […]
Providing high quality teaching that caters to the specific needs of every child is an enormous challenge, but there is no investment more rewarding for society. Gifted Awareness Week gives us a chance to think about how diverse the needs of our children are and what extraordinary things can happen if we rise to the […]
This week, some Waikato locals took me and intrepid photographer Amanda Rogers on a tour of some lakes and waterways in their region, and up to the massive dairy conversions in the upper catchment of the Waikato River. It was a powerful experience to start my Waikato tour at a local meeting of worried people […]
Last week the Board of Inquiry into the Ruataniwha irrigation proposal reported their decision on the nitrate limits that would be allowed in rivers affected by the scheme. The decision is a confirmation of some strict limits on the amount of nitrate that can leach into waterways. The Board of Inquiry limit is 0.8mg litre […]
Sunday was World Water Day and since we were travelling from Te Tairāwhiti to Coromandel we stopped by some waterways and had a good look at the water quality. Many of the rivers along the route have been affected by agricultural and industrial pollution. Our photo journey started by the Waioweka (also known as Waioeka) […]
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 […]
The Cricket World Cup has just opened in New Zealand, and it’s an opportunity for us to shine on the world stage. International sport can be a chance for us to build relationships with other countries, and examine what it means to be New Zealanders; who we are, what we stand for, and what we […]
This week it was my privilege to work with Sri Lankan Tamil communities in this country and host Australian journalist and human rights advocate Trevor Grant. I knew a bit about Trevor from his biography but I didn’t know just how inspiring this man would be. Trevor was a sports journalist for 45 years specialising […]
Last Wednesday, I went on a tour of some of Northland’s rivers with Millan Ruka from Environmental River Patrol as he monitored water quality throughout Te Tai Tokerau. The dry conditions meant we couldn’t use the boat but we visited a lot of waterways, and it was an amazing drive through beautiful rural countryside. What […]
MP Catherine Delahunty at Waitangi 2015, taking part in the Oil Free Seas Hikoi. There were many valuable and significant events at Waitangi this year, as we marked 175 years since the founding document of our country was signed. The Green Party had a large team at Waitangi and we participated in many events. The […]