Farming leaders group sign pledge to clean up New Zealand rivers

Big name farming groups are banding together and pledging to help make New Zealand's rivers swimmable for future generations, but there is no clear plan.

Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says the commitment is to make rivers swimmable and Dairy NZ chair Michael Spaans explains what needs to be done. Source: 1 NEWS

Heads of pastoral farming groups including Federated Farmers and Dairy NZ, representing over 80 per cent of the country's farmed land, have formed the Farming Leaders group and have signed the pledge today on the banks of the Ngaruroro River outside of Hastings.

Spokesperson Katie Milne of Federated Farmers says many rivers are not in the condition they need to be in.

"Today, we're standing up and saying that we haven't always got this right. More work is required and we will play our part."

Ms Milne says the work needed will be challenging for the farming sector and today isn't about the detail, but more the intent.

"We haven't put a timeline on our commitment. Each community will need to decide that for themselves. This goal will be difficult to meet and we don't have all the answers today on how it's going to be achieved", she says.

The Farming Leaders group, made up of representatives from seven major farming divisions, was established in May this year to address issues of importance in the industry.

The group says urban areas also have a role to play if the goal is to be achieved.

Figures from NIWA show more than 60 per cent of our rivers fail the current health standards for swimming.