For the first time, under National Science Challenge auspices, NZ’s waterways have been assessed against ‘minimum acceptable’ contaminant standards carefully, scientifically set in the current National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM).

Four contaminants were assessed in detail – E.coli, nitrogen and phosphorous, and sediment.

The analysis, conducted by Landcare Research and NIWA, indicates that substantial reductions in these contaminants are required in almost every region of NZ to meet the ‘minimum acceptable’ standards.

Here in Hawke’s Bay, the E.coli load in our waterways would need to be reduced 55%, nitrogen by 22%, sediment by 20% and phosphorous by 6%. Excessive nitrogen and of course E.coli represent the greatest risk to human health. Then there’s the affected ecosystems.

But not to worry!

Our new Government is determined to reduce the threat. By replacing the NPS-FM – that is, by weakening the standards and their implementation! 

Here’s the National/ACT Agreement pledge:

“Replace the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 to allow district councils more flexibility in how they meet environmental limits and seek advice on how to exempt councils from obligations under the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 as soon as practicable.

“More flexibility” … uh huh. If you don’t want to fuss with meeting the standards, essential to river and human health, just lower them.

The HB Regional Council was beginning its task to implement the NPS-FM standards across all HB catchments. This work will effectively go ‘on hold’ until the Government issues new guidance. 

Meantime, have a nice swim!


Join the Conversation


  1. Hi Tom, Your comments right on the mark. Hard fought progress negated. Actually, not much of a turn in direction unfortunately, just more of going down a more direct path of being market led, where now the value of money and making it trumps all else.

    New Zealand is a place of rarity in the world and human greed is destroying it in for the sake of a few, who happen to think because of their wealth and arrogance, they have the right to inflict outcomes on those that do not.

    It will take ‘a spiritual awakening of the masses’ to make the changes necessary.

  2. I’m amazed the last government wanted to measure anything .
    They removed measurement of targets in health and education because they were too embarassing.
    This governments undertaken to reinstitute them.

  3. Mōrena, e te Rāhoroi Tom.

    Thank you for drawing attention to The Hastings District Councils determination to cause and allow the pollution of our water.
    I think you should include the cancer causing forever chemicals in your dangerous pollution list .
    The Hastings District Councils have been actively causing the build up of all the dangerous pollutants.
    Since Cyclone Bola they have planted millions of riverside trees.
    These trees not only cause shingle and silt buildup, but they also trap the forever chemicals.
    The chemicals and pollutants cannot be removed while they are trapped.
    The rivers can’t run freely because of the trees. Nature has tried to flush out the pollutants but the trees are taking up all the rivers flood areas.
    Last Saturday Wairoa was in great danger as the blocked river was rising even after high tide. It was only the river that saved Wairoa , when it burst through the blocked river mouth to release the pressure.
    The councils used to open the river mouths when rain was due.
    The river mouths need to be completely opened at all times. This action would on it’s own, be enough to stop The Toxic Algal Blooms from forming.
    The starving sea creatures are washing up on our beaches and the dead bodies are killing the birds too.

    Do not eat anything that comes out of Hawkes Bay . We are still mill screening are waste and pumping it into the bay.
    We are a disgusting parasite that destroys everything in our environment.

    ka poroaki , “Haere rā! Haere rā

    Martin Laverty

  4. Omg. What is going on. Insane. Why! To protect their voters, the datmers and wealthy land owners. I can’t believe they’d be that obvious and arrogant. The planet is burning. What will it take.
    So sad.

  5. I find it astonishing that in New Zealand there is not an overwhelming consensus to arrest deterioration of surface water quality

  6. It beggars belief, Tom – it’s a giant leap backwards. Forget a national focus on reducing pollution of our waterways, and leave it to district councils. To state the obvious, district councils are elected bodies, elected by the political majority in that particular district. Should that be comprised of farmers and their friends, who may not care about rivers or the environment, then any standards or limits on agricultural pollution will reflect their preferences. So it’s a free-for-all at the end of the day. No national concerted effort to clean up our act as a country. It’s a damning indictment on NZ Agriculture Inc as to their real thoughts and intentions, regardless of the Fed’s attempts at greenwashing. The only light on the horizon is that our overseas customers are increasingly demanding sustainably produced products, which will force NZ, one way or another, to clean up their act.

  7. Is this a case of .. for all you previous authors? “Look in the mirror “. Many berate farmers and farming , however I ask why over last 5 years , Auckland with 83 beaches had 63 closed due to human filth.
    And along foreshore Clive, large pipe to carry Hastings toilet waste straight to the fish.. may be partly treated now but old days was raw.
    Humans are filthy
    I am a farmer but demand absolute clean water, rural too and in towns, cities certainly.
    I was fishing tuki tuki over Easter, polystyrene, tyres , deer skin, sheep heads ( both either hunters or stock thieves) and green river slime caused by waipukerau and Waipawa toilets and business ( likley) but also run off from farms ,
    Plant more trees , slow the water, get cleaner water

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