Note: Since the Key National Government came to power, the word 'sustainable' has been deleted from governmental and departmental vocabulary.
New Zealand is currently running at 162nd in our environmental performance out of 180 countries globally.
It is extremely difficult to access data on water quality in this country as it is 'locked away' from public scrutiny, even the Ministry for the Environment does not write it up for public consumption.
Researchers have to spend hours and days searching out any little snippet of information that is buried in Regional Council reports, because these reports too, are filed away from community analysis.
The reason for this impediment is because there is no Agency in this country that deals with such basic and important factual statistics and information and if this accumulated data was in the public domain, the Ministers involved would look so bad that the charade of 'Clean Green NZ' would be coherently shredded.
Yet, the latest statistics that are available for public information still go back to a 2004 report. Even though the 300 areas that are tested and sampled 'to this day' remain hidden from public view, and can not be accessed by scientists like Dr Mike Joy.
This vital information is being 'censored by omission' and the Ministry for the Environment and the 16 District Councils, only issue 'feel good' information on the better sites, (the upper high country where there is no population or industry) never the true story in the low land areas of farming, industry and population density. In essence, making a silk purse from a sows ear!
New Zealand has pristine highland lakes and rivers, which the tourist brochures revel in, but it is the low land lakes and rivers that are horrendously degraded in this country.
And it has been only in the last 20 years with the intensification of dairy herds that our water has really lost its purity. This due to the addition of far too many cows, as the population continues to increase.
11 humans are equal to one cow in their capacity to ingest and excrete. A conservative estimate is equal to 66 million people inhabiting NZ, the same population as the UK.
With the intensity of increasing cow numbers huge amounts of urine ends up in paddocks and in the process is changing the soil chemistry and seeping down into the water and into the greater catchment area, and this is not being factored into the pollution equation.
Adding to this, commercially manufactured urea is being spread on the land from urea plants as well as the use of more phosphorous to speed up plant growth, however a by-product of super phosphate is cadmium. NZ is now dangerously close to toxifying its soils, plant life and live stock with excess cadmium that ends up stored in the kidneys and liver of live stock, that if the animals are over 18 months of age - it is illegal to sell kidneys and liver for eating. (This is news to me!)
NOTE: New Zealand children are already exceeding the European levels of cadmium from our food chain
Scientists here in NZ like their counterparts worldwide are reluctant or prohibited from speaking out on environment or health concerns, for fear of losing their funding, or losing their job. They are under the hammer to keep their mouth firmly shut! Such is the power of the commercial imperative!
Treasury, which is the tail that wags the dog in this country is bloated with economists and Mike posits the idea that if we could have another department alongside it full of ecologists, we would strike a dynamic balance.
Mike says that what is happening in nature is that the fauna are now acting as the canary in the coal mine.
The tiny white bait (inanga) in our streams are being seen as the indicators of the health of our water ways and they are all being threatened, 4 out of 5 are now on the endangered list, same for fresh water crayfish and our eels, and the eel story Mike tells is near on bizzare in the extreme.
KPMG, one of the largest professional services companies on our planet, states in a new report that New Zealand has 5 years to clean up our clean green image, or we will lose it!
Dr Mike Joy: The true story of New Zealand's ecological status.