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Forest & Bird is expressing frustration and disappointment after yesterday’s announcement that Cabinet has agreed to replace the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 (NPS-FM). 

The announcement comes only weeks after a report from Our Land and Water scientists highlighted the perilous state of freshwater in Aotearoa, and days before many New Zealanders head off to rivers and lakes for their summer holiday. 

“New Zealanders care deeply about water quality in our lakes, rivers and streams. Every year we see water quality worsen and the legislation we have was put in place to turn the situation around,” says Tom Kay, Forest & Bird’s freshwater advocate. 

“We cannot afford to weaken the standards currently in place which were the result of a more than 10 years of work undertaken across numerous governments – Labour and National led.” 

“Events in Queenstown and Havelock North show just how vulnerable our communities are to poor freshwater rules.”  

Forest & Bird says coalition agreements to change the NPS “to better reflect the interests of all water users” and to “rebalance Te Mana o te Wai” are disingenuous.  

“We support ‘enduring’ and ‘workable’ rules for freshwater. But to us, workable means rules that actually clean up our rivers and lakes, and protect our wetlands. Te Mana o te Wai and the idea that the health of freshwater should be put first are critical to that.  

“We’re not at all confident this Government’s changes will result in improvements.” 

“It has taken us years to get to the point of having legislation that might actually reverse the downward trend. We haven’t even reached implementation dates yet – so to claim it’s not working is plain wrong. We need to allow councils to move ahead and restore the health of our rivers. 

“We’ll be sure to continue to stand up and remind the Government how important freshwater is to New Zealanders – and we encourage others to do the same,” Tom Kay says. 

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