What will your candidates do with water?
We’ve asked our readers what matters most this election.
Each candidate was emailed the format and the topics last week, and were given the same deadline to provide 150 words on the topic.
Below is a summary of the candidates’ thoughts on water, grouped by electorate.
Incumbent MP Amy Adams said National had done more than any previous Government to address long-term sustainability of water and improve freshwater quality.
‘‘We have introduced the first ever national water standards including ambitious targets to improve the swimability of our lakes and rivers. We’ve committed over $400 million for lake and river clean-ups compared to a mere $29 million spent by the last Labour Government.’’
She said they had also introduced rules around water metering and would develop stock exclusion rules.
In the Selwyn, Adams said National supported regional water infrastructure development schemes such as the Central Plains Water project because they maintained minimum flow levels in rivers, used surplus water to relieve irrigation pressure on groundwater and were ‘‘used in conjunction with clear nutrient loss and environmental rules’’.
Labour’s Tony Condon said New Zealanders needed to accept that the environment had its limits and they had been reached.
‘‘Clean fresh water is every New Zealanders birth right. It is an intrinsic part of our being. Water is a ta¯onga, owned and treasured by all.
‘‘Yet our government continues to promote further land intensification and permits further large extractions of our precious water. relying on technology and known sustainable practices to deal with the negative externalities. The systems simply cannot cope with that level of development.’’
Condon said those who extracted water for personal gain needed to ensure the efficiency of its use and work towards repairing environmental damage.
‘‘We need to rethink our water policies,’’ he said.
The Opportunities Party’s (TOP) Nicky Snoyink said clean water underpinned New Zealand’s economy.
‘‘Rising tensions between competing uses has created a tenuous situation. Prioritising commercial water uses over public health and the natural environment is untenable.’’
She said a tipping point had been reached for Canterbury’s water and TOP recognised that long term sustainability meant working within strict, enforceable environmental limits.
She said her party’s polluter pays policy would reward those doing the right thing and penalise others.
‘‘[It] prioritises environmental health and the well-being of the many over the benefits to the few,’’ Snoyink said.
NZ First’s Lindy Palmer said her party was not interested in charging water royalties however.
‘‘[We have a] strong empathy for rural New Zealand and for our farmers. We understand the costs they have to pay are already quite significant without adding to them.’’
She said water was a renewable resource which could not be compared to oil or gold. The bottom line was that NZ First ‘‘cannot and will not support any more expensive food and power prices from National or Labour’’.
Palmer said her party was interested in putting a royalty on all water exports.
‘‘No-one should be getting our water virtually free offshore. Interestingly the vast majority of people we have spoken to, including Ma¯ori would prefer to see water taxed when sold overseas.’’
TE TAI TONGA
Ma¯ ori Party candidate Mei ReedyTaare said her party was committed to reintroducing the Drinkable Water Supply fund to ensure every home was attached to a drinkable water supply.
‘‘We will support rural, isolated Ma¯ori communities to gain access to a drinkable water supply. We will enhance Te Mana o Te Wai funding to support community projects such as planting riparian buffers and establish wetlands.’’
She said the party would also establish regional water authorities to manage, clean and restore waterways alongside rights holders and regional councils.
‘‘We will impose a moratorium on the sale of water ... so that issues around water, namely quality, management and ownership, can be addressed,’’ Reedy-Taare said.
The Green Party’s Metiria Turei said ‘‘water is life, ko awa ko au’’ had been the call from indigenous people in Aotearoa, and around the world, defending access to fresh, clean and safe water.
She said the Greens knew that manawhenua had customary and proprietary rights in freshwater and would honour that.