Water and rivers surely is destined to become a major election issue at this year’s election And rightly so because water is so vital for us all whether town or country. It therefore is important that all New Zealand pursues a policy to have “sustainable” use of water and that essential quantity for the ecosystem and essential quality is maintained and in some cases restored.

One aspect which must be paramount in debate is not let water go the way of fishing quotas where quotas are tradable. Your last issue featured about the flaws in the tradable quota fisheries system.

Being tradable opens the way – as has happened in fisheries – for bigger players, i.e. corporate companies to buy up smaller players’ allocation and thus emerge as monopolies in the use of the resource. Despite the self-promotion by MPI that our fisheries quota system is the envy of other countries it has been revealed to be seriously flawed. No wonder fish stocks are often struggling. However the offenders, corporate companies wield strong political influence by way of donations to political parties resulting in their interests being paramount rather than the best public interest. Above all the resource suffers from mismanagement.

It is imperative that water not be allowed to become a victim of “wheeling and dealing.”

Each election year the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations (CORANZ) puts out an election charter which is sent to political parties. Water and rivers feature strongly. One is that “residual flow must be adequate for wildlife and fish and recreation such as fishing, swimming, canoeing etc.” Water is for multiple use by the community at large.

Despite John Key’s nonchalant shrug that “water belongs to no one” line, water belongs to the people. Water is essentially a public resource, regardless of wealth, ethnicity or social class. Law should be enacted now to make it crystal clear that water cannot be sold and hocked off to the highest bidder.

Andi Cockroft, Co-chair, CORANZ
(Council of Outdoor Recreational Associations of New Zealand

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