Not too late for Māori to save NZ's polluted waters

updated By Tema Hemi

Over half of NZ’s 800 monitored water sites show signs of increased nitrate pollution. 

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says intensification and urban growth have placed increasing pressure on both water quality and quantity. 

Jones says, "We don’t need a repeat of situations like Raukōkore and water issues have unfortunately restricted work around pollution in the river and its what the whole nation are experiencing".

The Māori Legal, Business & Governance Forum began their 2 day conference in Wellington and its Chair Linda Te Aho (Ngāti Koroki Kahukura, Waikato-Tainui) began with slamming the Crown for allowing Aotearoas’ rivers and lakes get so polluted. 

Te Aho says, "Some of the concerns that were voiced today is the Resource Management Act. It does not allow iwi to uphold their own rights to their rivers and lakes as guardians".

However, all hope is not lost, as Te Aho explained, that the power of change lies within Maoridoms’ hands.

"So our concerns with the act and the way the crown and regional councils are handling the issue is wrong. So we have challenged them all to give Māori a proper say in the matter.

"Despite whether its Oranga Tamariki, or health issues, or fresh water issues, the solutions for Māori are within our own hands".

Te Aho articulated her expectations of how Minister Jones could assist with rectifying this massive problem.

"He is the minister that provides the much needed funding. He was here to encourage our different Māori organisations how we could best utilise funding for land and water projects".

Jones spoke of the concerns that post-settlement hapū have conveyed to him about developing returned lands.

The Government is currently consulting on new rules for water quality. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to tackle an issue New Zealanders are deeply concerned about.