How can New Zealand claim to be 100% Pure when 61% of our monitored waterways are too polluted to swim in? This has to be one of the largest cases of false advertising in our country’s history, and it’s time the world knew so that our government is forced to act.

While recently backpacking through the United States and Mexico, it was evident how great it is to be a Kiwi traveler. Most people speak highly of our small nation, often referring to stunning Lord of the Rings back drops, the Flight of the Conchords and our untouched, pristine nature. While our dry kiwi humour is something we all can be proud of, the current state of our environment should have collective heads hung in shame.

When explaining that 100% Pure New Zealand is false advertising far from the current reality, travelers confess they had no idea. It’s not at all surprising, considering the $117 million dollar budget of Tourism New Zealand which is mainly used to bump our country to the top of their lists. Strangely, none of these picturesque advertisements with catchy phrases like ‘Discover all New Zealand has to offer’ mention the serious environmental degradation we are suffering.

For a small country, New Zealand has it’s fair set of environmental challenges to address:

– We have the fifth highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita in the OECD, with agriculture contributing 49% of New Zealand’s total emissions.

– New Zealand’s freshwater is in a shocking state, with once popular swimming holes reduced to cess pits thanks to intensive farming, over allocation of freshwater and a warming climate. Two thirds of monitored waterways are now considered unsafe for swimming, let alone drinking.

– Councils refuse to prioritise upgrades to city sewage infrastructure, with Auckland beaches now being inundated by raw sewage nearly every time it rains. Other large cities such as Christchurch aren’t any better.

– 1080 poison is being carpet bombed over our forests, while the government has ignored the efficiency of more humane and less damaging pest control methods such as GoodNature’s resetting gas traps.

The first step in solving any problem is admitting there is one, and that takes public pressure.

In a recent poll, 75% of Kiwis indicated freshwater pollution is their most pressing concern. Some of this can be attributed to the excellent work raising awareness of the issues from the likes of Dr Mike Joy, Greenpeace, Forest & Bird, Choose Clean Water and other non-profit organisations who have tirelessly battled the well funded farming lobby in our media.

Fonterra and DairyNZ aren’t the only organisations twisting the truth to suit their agenda. Tourism New Zealand’s 2017 advertisement showing an innocent tourist drinking straight from an undisclosed river was incredibly irresponsible, and would be a dangerous feat in most of New Zealand’s polluted low-lying rivers and lakes. Our complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority that this video gives the wrong message to tourists and could be harmful to health was denied, highlighting how complicit our governing bodies are.

To ensure Labour doesn’t ignore environmental issues like National did over the past 9 years, we must be honest and own up to the realities in New Zealand: We are far from 100% Pure. That doesn’t mean we can’t be 100% Pure, and we hope a new public campaign can be formed rallying the new government to adopt this target.

It will take a significant amount of public pressure, courage and honesty to admit our once pristine environment has now been polluted. Admitting our problems, adjusting our tourism advertising campaigns so that they reflect reality and then focusing on solutions is the fastest way we will see improvements in New Zealand.

If you would like to see more independent journalism in New Zealand covering pressing issues like this, please consider supporting Wake Up NZ on Patreon. Patreon is a crowd funding platform for on-going projects, and even $1 a month will allow us to provide more future coverage of environmental issues that matter.

About The Author

Kyle is a Christchurch based freelance writer with a passion for investigative journalism and thirst for the truth. He's also an avid environmentalist and tiny house dweller.

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