Kiwis are being told to examine political parties' green policies as politicians from across the spectrum attempt to stake their claim on environmental issues.
National's pushed its eco-friendly priorities at its ‘Bluegreen Forum’ today in Nelson, pledging $5 million to help community groups clean up beaches and rivers if voted back into power.
National Party leader Simon Bridges described the move as “practical environmentalism”.
“All New Zealanders today are environmentalists. We all want the same things, we want a strong economy...but we also know if we're trashing the environment, we've got nothing”.
Political commentator Bryce Edwards isn’t surprised, saying all parties are “going a little bit green”.
“The Green Party themselves have lost all the monopoly on having environmental policies. So especially main stream parties like Labour and National need to show that they are at least trying and that they are green themselves."
It comes as results from a Fish & Game survey show water quality is shaping up to be key election issue, with the pollution of rivers and lakes one of Kiwis' top concerns.
The only issue people were more worried about was the cost of living, with 80 per cent saying they were extremely or very concerned.
Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague says “nature is at breaking point” and the party will need to do “something substantial”.
“I'm not sure that a policy to spend $5 million to clean up beaches, worthy though that is, is actually going to meet New Zealanders’ expectations of a political party in this election year”.
“They need to tackle climate change, they need to tackle the crisis of freshwater”.
As voters make up their minds over the coming months, they’re warned to “watch out for green washing” as more announcements and promises are made.
“We do have to do watch out whether these parties do have solutions,” explains Bryce Edwards.