By Te Karere


The quality of freshwater is the second major concern behind the cost of living.


That's according to Fish and Game NZ who found in a recent survey that 75% of people polled were either extremely concerned or very concerned about the state of the country's lakes and rivers.   


Fish and Game NZ’s Martin Taylor says, “It shows that New Zealanders are very concerned about the state of their lakes, rivers and streams. Before the election, it was issue number three. Now it's issue number two. It's not going away; politicians know it's not going away.”


The contamination of Havelock North's water supply was one recent incident that drew the public's attention to the issue and something Taylor says we can learn from, “Clean drinking water is a basic right of all Kiwis. Why have we lost this? Have we lost this because of intensive agriculture? If so then we need to do something about it. Just like the aquifers down in Canterbury which is being polluted by intensive dairy farming. There's something wrong in this country when we can't drink the water that we get through the tap.”


Taylor also says that besides the government and local councils, iwi has a part to play, too, “A lot of lakes, rivers and streams have been given back as treaty settlements. Māori collects a lot of food, a lot of kai from your local river and streams whether it's watercress or whitebait or mussels in a river mouth. You've got to make sure that the river is clean. It's hugely important and it's something they're going to have to really focus on in the future because it's just as important for them as everyone else.”