Catnthehat CC BY-SA 2.0

We want swimmable rivers

Waikirikiri - Selwyn River

Beautiful Coe’s Ford is one of the gorgeous spots you could swim at on this river – if you’re prepared to get a waterborne illness. Even the upper reaches of the Waikiriki regularly get algal blooms, posing a health risk to people and animals.

Canterbury’s rivers have taken a hit from intensive dairy farming (which causes high levels of farm run-off), coupled with the devastating impact of irrigation schemes which destroy habitat for native species and enable more intensive farming.

The river is over-allocated, which means too many people have taken too much water for their farms, making it even more susceptible to pollution and changing the river’s natural resilience.

Irrigation has changed Canterbury from a braided river paradise to a monoculture of dairy cows, where the environment comes off a poor second to chasing dairy export dollars.

This has upset members of the community, who have formed Te Ara Kākāriki Greenway Canterbury Trust, a group which is dedicated to planting green spaces around the plains and helping landowners manage the existing native bush they have on their land, all with the aim of encouraging native birds, such as the kākāriki (yellow and orange-fronted parakeet), back into the region.

What are your memories and stories about the Selwyn river?

To make the Waikirikiri/Selwyn safe for swimming again, the Green Party will:

  • Keep wild rivers wild by not building new water storage schemes.
  • Wind up Crown Irrigation Investments, a subsidy used to fund water storage and irrigation schemes.
  • 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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