Monday, 5 July 2010


well, i've had a nice quiet weekend, after an extremely busy week last week. not only the concert on tuesday night, and a community radio board meeting on monday, and a trip to auckland on thursday night to celebrate 4th of july by invitation of the american consulate, and a function on friday night (community radio again), i was ready to just relax at home.

the 4th of july thing was interesting - the usual crowd, though with a lot more colour and diversity than i've seen in previous years. despite what i've said in previous posts, it was pretty obvious that america has a democrat president in power, just from looking around the room. also nice to shake mr len brown's hand and wish him well for the upcoming elections. pity i can't vote for him.

the sporting interlude hasn't been going too well, with roger federer out in the quarter-finals, and ditto argentina with a thrashing from germany. i couldn't be bothered staying up to watch the men's finals at wimbledon, though i did actually enjoy watching serena williams win the night before. and as for the world cup, i don't really know which team to support now. i was offered a bribe (a slab of chocolate, very tempting) on friday night to switch my allegiance from argentina to brazil, but i resisted. but i can't even support brazil now, given they were out before the argentinians.

so i guess it's time to get back to more important matters. i don't know what other papers around the country are like, but here in the waikato, the farmers have been waging a strong and sustained letter-writing campaign against the ETS. we're having to read a lot about what a hoax climate change is, or how nz can't possibly make a difference, and generally how the sky is going to fall on our heads because of this apparently awful scheme that really isn't going to impact the agricultural sector all that much in the near future.

then today's paper has this as the main front page article:

Waikato's Waipa and Waihou rivers are in the top four on a list of New Zealand's filthiest rivers.

He was "not surprised at all" to see the Waihou and the Waipa rivers on Dr Wright's list, and said since his 2008 report was released there had been little improvement.

Nutrient levels in the Waihou were "already quite high, much, much higher than the Waikato River".

"The amount of worsening is increasing at a small rate – but that doesn't mean there is not a problem," he said.

There was also "high faecal content" in the Waihou due to farm run-off and other sources.

High sediment in the Waihou and Waipa rivers could also be attributed to natural issues such as geography, "which isn't to say it couldn't be reduced".

Excessive nutrients and pollution of the Waihou River meant there were risks to the southern Firth of Thames, Dr Singleton said – although that could take many years to occur.

Dr Singleton said central and local government had to take leadership on the issue, and the agriculture sector needed guidance and advice to curb discharges and excessive use of nutrients on pasture land – nutrients which leached into rivers.

Over-fertilisation of pasture land "continues to increase", he said.

i wish they had the photograph accompanying the article on the website, because as you know, a picture tells a thousand words, and this particular picture was pretty eloquent. given the very obvious evidence of pollution from the agricultural sector, consistently over a number of years, i find it really hard to understand the attitude of farmers. in the end, their own businesses and lifestyles will suffer when the environment will no longer sustain their activities. forget about the harm the rest of us suffer.

you'd think, then, that they would support adding the costs of pollution to all the other costs of their business. it's an incentive to reduce pollution, and according to the free market rules that most of them hold dear, it will serve to weed out those businesses that aren't able to cover the costs of the damage they do to the environment.

but no, the resistance is high. i wonder how bad things have to get before they'd be prepared to change.

since i couldn't put in the picture i wanted, i'll put this one in instead, just because i love it.


Graeme Robertson said...

Good to see your concern about the state of New Zealand's rivers and streams. I used to work at Kinleith Mill, so know quite a bit about what goes into the Waikato River (especially from non-point sources such as agriculture). Now I'm almost retired, I concentrate on photographing beautiful things. Check out my Blog: and

stargazer said...

your pictures are indeed lovely, thank you so much for sharing the link. i notice that a lot of them are of the south island, but i'll have a closer look in the evening when i get more time. we had a trip around the south island about 2 and a half years ago now, and it continues to be amazingly beautiful. however, when i travelled to the far north a year later, i was really disappointed with the quality of their rivers. there were a couple we visited, and the water was a murky brown with lots of slime on the bed. it made me really sad, because it looked to me like those rivers were just not being looked after. i wonder how our children and their children will view us when we squander their heritage so carelessly. sigh.