Election - Dig Deeper into What the Parties Promise

Short summaries in no particular order of key party statements on the environment and water quality, with links to policies – if available. This list is not definitive but lists the parties which have been most active or outspoken on water issues.

NZ Outdoors Party - www.outdoorsparty.co.nz

The Outdoors Party is urging voters encourage all outdoor lovers to give them their party vote this forthcoming General Election.

The party was formed by hunters and fisherman so that the outdoors can have a voice that is not tainted by party politics. Outdoors people and outdoors issues are the only item on the agenda.

“Not jobs for the boys or looking after commercial interests, but protection of those things that make New Zealand different to the rest of the world – our outdoors environment and heritage.”

 The party’s key principles include protecting the “natural character and life of water bodies” and “polluters will pay.”


The Opportunities Party - http://www.top.org.nz

Policy: http://www.top.org.nz/top3

The Opportunities Part says that economic growth should not come at the expense of the environment.

The party says the government is intent on doubling agricultural exports and increasing irrigation while leaving the taxpayer to foot the bill for cleaning up our rivers and lakes.

“The only reason increasing volume is viable is because the industry is not paying for the environmental damage it’s inflicting.”

TOP’s default goal is for swimmable rivers, “unless local communities decide otherwise.”

The party wants intensification of land use to cease unless the impacts can be offset.

TOP has proposed a levy on commercial water users and polluters, paid into regional “Nature Investment Funds.” The funds would be used for monitoring, research, improving water quality and resolving Treaty claims.  


The Greens - www.greens.org.nz

Policy: https://www.greens.org.nz/policy/cleaner-environment/clean-groundwater-bill

The Greens say polluted rivers, beaches and contaminated drinking water are endangering our health and threatening our native species with extinction. “Yet we give water away to foreign corporations who are reaping huge profits.”

The Green Party has vowed to “clean up all of our waterways and protect them from pollution and overuse.”

The party supports the seven-point Freshwater Rescue Plan (https://www.freshwaterrescueplan.org) that includes many of the things it has called on the government to do in order to clean up and protect our waterways.

They include ending subsidies for large-scale irrigation, decreasing the number of cows on our farms, bringing in higher standards for clean water, and moving to less intensive forms of farming.

Among other aims, the Greens aim to pass a Clean Groundwater Bill to make aquifers a matter of national importance “to protect our springs, groundwater and underground water sources.”

“This Members’ Bill will keep our water from underground sources safe from pollution, contamination, and over-extraction.”


Labour Party - www.labour.org.nz

Policy: http://www.labour.org.nz/tags/environment/

Labour policies include the promise to “ensure that our rivers and lakes are genuinely swimmable, without trickery around standards.”

The party says it will restore the health of waterways so that fish and invertebrates can thrive in them. 

Spokesman David Party has promised the party will “reverse the damage” done by National.

Labour would reissue the National Policy Statement recommended by former head Environment Court Judge Sheppard after the full RMA process.

“We will return to the principles of the Sheppard NPS. We will enforce the existing swimmable standard, not National’s dirty substitute.”

The core provision of that NPS was that increases in farming intensity (more livestock, irrigation or fertiliser per hectare) would no longer be permitted.

Labour says that for eight years, the National government has overseen increasing pollution of our rivers, adopting the pathetic “wadeable” standard while allowing river pollution to get worse.


New Zealand First - www.nzfirst.org.nz

Policy:  http://www.nzfirst.org.nz/outdoor_recreation

New Zealand first New Zealand First says it believes in the right of all New Zealanders to “responsibly hunt, shoot, fish and enjoy the great outdoors and to take food from the bush, the rivers and the seas.”

The party supports what it describes as a “sensible balance” between the often overlapping requirements of outdoor recreational activities and those of industry, farming, conservation, tourism and the environment.

Ensure the sustainable management and preservation of rivers, waterways, wetlands, and wilderness areas for all users.

NZ First would also guarantee free access to the conservation estate for all New Zealanders.


per year contestable fund for the purpose of funding

National Party - www.national.org.nz

Media release:  https://www.national.org.nz/90_of_rivers_and_lakes_swimmable_by_2040

The National Party’s most recent statement on water quality is contained in this media release titled ‘90% of rivers and lakes swimmable by 2040.’

The target will be based on meeting the water quality standard at least 80 per cent of the time in line with European and United States definition.

Currently 72 per cent by length meet that definition and the target is to increase that to 90 per cent by 2040.

The Government's controversial "swimmable" standard has been set at 540 E coli per 100 millilitres of water.

The party doesn’t appear to have a current (2017) policy on water quality on its website.

The party says in a 2014 policy statement, that freshwater matters to all New Zealanders.

“It is central to the environment and the economy.”

The party notes that managing water more efficiently through irrigation has the potential to increase agricultural exports by as much as $4 billion per year by 2026.

National claims it has taken significant steps to ensure we have what is described as a sufficiently rigorous system for managing freshwater quality, including a scientifically- backed national framework.

Under policy “highlights,” the party cites the introduction of national standards for freshwater and national bottom lines to protect our freshwater quality. 



Policy: http://act.org.nz/conservation-and-the-environment/

 Act says it values the environment.

“Clean water, fresh air, efficient disposal of waste and the preservation of natural and historical features are all important for quality of life.”

The party contends that free markets are “far from being incompatible with good environmental custodianship, are essential to it.”

People should be paying the “true costs” of valuable resources and pollutants alike. 

The party would allow where water rights to be tradeable, “giving owners greater incentives to conserve water and oppose pollution of it.”