Addressing the Freshwater Crisis – It’s Time for Action

Press Release – The Maori Party

Water is a hot topic at the moment. The Mori Party has long been advocating for water to be recognised as a taonga, not just at election time. We have always said that the absolute priority is for all New Zealanders, including our private sector, …Addressing the freshwater crisis – it’s time for action

Water is a hot topic at the moment. The Māori Party has long been advocating for water to be recognised as a taonga, not just at election time. We have always said that the absolute priority is for all New Zealanders, including our private sector, to understand the value of restoring and protecting the quality of our freshwater, not just for ourselves, but for the sake of the whole environment, and for future generations. We must look at moving towards a water management system that prioritises the water uses that grow our economy while at the same time protecting our precious freshwater taonga. We know that this will take time. But is essential that we take action now. Healthy water is valuable for all of our communities, for the tourism industry and our food exporters. But, despite our reputation for being ‘clean and green’, New Zealand faces a freshwater crisis. We cannot continue to deforest and farm in ways that lead to erosion, and to contaminants leaching into our freshwater streams, rivers and lakes – many of which are no longer drinkable or swimmable, or even wadeable.

The provision for Te Mana o te Wai in law and policy is a positive step forward: recognising the innate relationship between the health and wellbeing of water and the wider environment, and their ability to support each other, while sustaining the health and wellbeing of the people too.

It is also time to address the issue of rights – an issue that has been in the ‘too hard basket’ for far too long. The refusal to address Māori proprietary rights has been a key factor in the lack of ability to respond to community concerns about charging water polluters and overseas commercial water bottling companies. Having said that, the Māori Party has always supported the view that the ‘first right to water goes to water’. We want to ensure that water is seen as precious and scarce rather than something that can be abused. He taonga te wai.

We will support Councils and communities to ensure that limits are set and adhered to in order to achieve Te Mana o te Wai. Once limits are set, then we can focus on sustainable use of the remaining allocable flow. We need a system that equitably distributes that remaining water in order to encourage efficiency, and to discourage water hoarding. This, too, is a way of giving effect to Treaty rights and interests and ensuring that tangata whenua and new users who can demonstrate that they are good kaitiaki of the water have fair access to water for sustainable development options that enable and protect Te Mana o te Wai. The Māori Party will not simply go with the flow on issues relating to freshwater. Water is a taonga, and it is our responsibility to ensure that our freshwater systems are restored and protected, now and into the future.
ENDS

Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
Original url