Copyright Rob Suisted

We want swimmable rivers

Mataura River

Southland’s Mataura River is another of Aotearoa’s rivers that has suffered from intensive agricultural production. What was once sheep country is being converted to dairy, which is more pollution-intensive than other forms of farming, and more water hungry.

The upper to mid reaches of the Mataura get farming pollution as well as discharges from factories.

Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Mamoe have strong connections with this river, not just as a place to gather kai and other resources but an important taonga to ensure the wellbeing of the people. But traditional activities like gathering plants and kanakana (also called lamprey, a kind of native fish that looks like an eel) are off limits because of the pollution.

Hokonui Rūnanga are working hard on a project to restore a healthy, sustainable and abundant fishery using tikanga and rawa Māori to manage supply.

The river is still called a “trout fishing purist’s dream” – perhaps one day it will a kanakana and a swimmer’s dream too.

What are your memories and stories about the Mataura river?

To make the Mataura safe for swimming again, the Green Party will:

  • Require as a minimum that all water bodies be safe for swimming in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, rather than the current ‘safe for wading and boating’ standard
  • Develop national standards to limit the amount of pollution going into water
  • Put a levy on pollution going into rivers. We’ll use this money to support sustainable land and water management programmes like freshwater habitat restoration.
  • Ensure Māori are recognised and supported in their role as kaitiaki of their taonga and tikanga
  • Put a hold on all new conversions of land to dairy farms
  • Require resource consents in cases where the proposed land use is more intensive than the current land use
  • Introduce rules that require all farms to be fenced from rivers and creeks, and for riverbanks to be planted so that excess run-off is absorbed

Read more about our solutions to the freshwater crisis

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