Water pollution is now New Zealanders’ Number One Concern
- Richie Cosgrove
Pollution of our rivers and lakes is worrying New Zealanders more than any other issue, according to just-released public opinion poll results.
The findings are revealed in a nation-wide Colmar Brunton poll conducted for Fish & Game New Zealand in December.
People were asked how concerned they were about a range of issues, including the cost of living, health system, child poverty and water pollution.
Pollution of rivers and lakes was the top concern, with 82 percent saying they are extremely or very concerned about the issue. Only four percent said they were not that concerned.
The cost of living is New Zealanders’ number two concern, with 80 percent saying they are extremely or very concerned.
The health system was third with 78 percent, followed by child poverty 72 percent, education and climate change both on 70 percent and housing 67 percent.
Fish & Game New Zealand chief executive Martin Taylor says the survey’s findings show the depth of feeling New Zealanders have about their rivers, lakes and streams.
“Kiwis are extremely worried that they are losing their ability to swim, fish and gather food from their rivers, lakes and streams,” Mr Taylor says.
“People see those activities as their birth right but over the last 20 years, that right is being lost because the level of pollution in waterways has increased as farming intensifies.
This is the second year Colmar Brunton has conducted the survey for Fish and Game. Last year, water pollution was in second place with 75 percent of people expressing concern.
Martin Taylor says big agriculture and local government should take note of the fact that the issue is now Kiwi’s top concern.
“While many farmers do understand the need for action and are making the necessary changes to how they use their land, there are still significant numbers who are refusing to follow their example,” he says.
“These laggards are letting down the responsible farmers, undermining farming’s reputation and exhausting the public’s patience.
“They have to be made to change. This means regional and district councils have to toughen the rules, enforce them and stop making excuses for the environmentally destructive and irresponsible farmers in their areas,” Mr Taylor says.
“More Kiwis than ever are now worried about their rivers and lakes.
“This opinion poll result shows they are fed up and want action on this issue.”
Note: The poll was conducted for Fish & Game New Zealand by Colmar Brunton from 5-12 December 2018. A thousand New Zealanders were surveyed and the results are nationally representative for age, gender and region. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.