Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Fact and fantasy

628 Responses

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  • Hilary Stace, in reply to llew40,

    It’s been a major reason for tourism growth in NZ, and for why NZ is frequently cited offshore as a desirable destination.

    Someone else will know for sure, but hasn't tourism to NZ gone down in the last few years, even with the PM as Minister?

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2070 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    To be fair, ECan was dysfunctional, especially on water issues. Something needed to be done.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1327 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Farmer Green thinks that it matters little in the long run what tourists think of our agricultural practice, tourism being essentially recreational pollution.

    But the problem isn't limited to agriculture.

    A common view is that the lack of human population makes the destination attractive.

    Maybe. But it's no good for tourists to go back home and tell their friends and families that the few people there are have a terrible attitude to that beautiful and formerly clean environment.

    It does matter what those offshore who buy our food think of the way we operate; the common view is that we are reliable clean operators producing safe nutritious food in a reasonably sustainable fashion , at least in comparison to what goes on elsewhere.

    And there's another area where NZ Inc needs to lift its game, because clean, green 100% pure has been adopted by our agricultural exporters, too. It's no good having infant formula exporters regularly failing inspection by China's Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, for example - which has happened more than once this year - because Chinese parents tend to be rather unforgiving with companies that play fast and loose with their children's health, safety and well-being. All those infant formula companies claiming a New Zealand connection (whether or not their formula is actually made in NZ) play up the clean, green, 100% pure, reliable, safe image. China is now NZ's second largest source of tourists, Yao Chen is doing a superb job of advertising NZ's beautiful scenery simply by getting married in Queenstown and posting honeymoon pictures on Weibo. Naturally it will be good for neither NZ's dairy exporters nor tourist importers if dairy exporters continue to fail inspection and tourists get back to China and tell their friends and families and post on Weibo "Wow! Lurid green algae-choked lowland lakes and rivers! Just like home!" Rinse and repeat for NZ's other export markets and tourist sources.

    In this regard it must be noted , as other scientists at Massey have repeatedly pointed out, that we cannot have fertile soils without having some enrichment of the waterways.
    No phosphorus added to the deficient soils of NZ = little or no production.

    Well, yes. But surely these things can be managed better so as to minimise collateral damage?

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2050 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    That points to something in the policies, or lack thereof, of the current government.

    The decline would lag from the previous government's term as well - but we can only imagine how bad our position will be in a few more years.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16600 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    hasn't tourism to NZ gone down in the last few years

    Global financial collapse and our soaring exchange rate may have something to do with that. Not that it lets anyone off the hook for pretending all is rosy.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16600 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    To be fair, ECan was dysfunctional, especially on water issues. Something needed to be done.

    Something, but not that.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2601 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Benson, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    I thought it was a Bruce Wills op-ed.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2007 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    Someone else will know for sure, but hasn’t tourism to NZ gone down in the last few years, even with the PM as Minister?

    Yes. The global economic crisis and a high Kiwi dollar, combined with the Christchurch earthquakes (which have hammered the tourism industry for the whole of the South Island).

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2601 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Sacha,

    but we can only imagine how bad our position will be in a few more years.

    Warning: Not for the faint of heart. But these pictures from Yuncheng, Shanxi might help. Text is all in Chinese, and the pollution source is more heavy industry (specifically a paper factory in this case) than heavy agriculture, but a buggered-up environment is a buggered up environment. And a buggered up environment is not something I want to see when I get back to New Zealand.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2050 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Littlewood, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    To be fair, ECan was dysfunctional, especially on water issues. Something needed to be done.

    It's now a matter of public record (thanks to one of earlier MfE "document dumps" after the sacking of the ECan Councillors back in 2010) that way back in 2006 and again in 2007 and 2008, ECan chairman Kerry Burke and chief executive Bryan Jenkins consistently asked the (then-Labour) Government for special legislative powers to help them deal with the oncoming "gold rush" of water consent applications- such as the ability to declare "moratoriums" on at-risk catchments and a more specific national policy framework to work from (i.e. actual rules and limits that all RCs could use as a baseline). It really was a mess-at both a regional and national level.


    Thanks to the ECan Act, the appointed commissioners have the ability to declare moratoriums on "at-risk" catchments.

    However- and here's the kicker- no one has the right to appeal any of the appointed ECan commissioners' decisions to Environment Court. You can only appeal on points of law, which is much, much more limited in scope. They are literally extraordinary powers.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • llew40,

    The tourism data isn't telling a simple story. total number of visitors has grown. total spend of visitors has declined. we think that is predominantly because of the market shifts going on around the world (as Chris W points out China is now NZs second biggest tourism market) as global growth shifts from west to east, and because of the changing patterns of visitor stay (which are for a range of reasons including direct air-links or lack thereof, ease of independent travel, etc.

    For what its worth (and I am the son of a coal-miner who votes Labour/Green) I think the PM has done a great job as tourism minister. But I also believe NZ will never be able to compete long-term with other tourism destinations like Thailand on a mass-market basis (as we will not be able to in agriculture), so our tourism future is more viable as a premium market, which infers higher value, and higher protection of what makes it premium.

    The counter to that is, while tourism is responsible for 1 in 10 NZ jobs, for decades they have been (and are) seen as relatively low pay jobs, and in many quarters not seen as where NZ's future economic growth priorities should lie. That future is seen as high-tech agriculture and manufacturing amongst others.

    So where does a famously effective (and too widely appropriated) tourism brand such as 100% Pure sit in that debate.

    Since Nov 2012 • 46 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Littlewood,

    There's more than talk to all this at the moment. This week's Listener editorial takes a well-informed looked at two developments:. First, the delivery to government of the Land and Water Forum's third and final report on water standards -- and the Environment Minister Amy Adams' subsequent sidelining of the forum in favour of "a seemingly secret group of officials

    That's a really interesting comment- particularly considering the previous Environment Minister Nick Smith appeared to be hugely supportive of the forum, at least in public and in interviews. I was unaware of that development with regards to Amy Adams.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    This is tangential to the main story, but I am intrigued to see a Dr Black being brought in by NZTA to dismiss residents’ concerns at pollution caused by the proposed Kapiti Expressway on their organic gardens at the side of the new road. I think it might be the same Dr Black who was called in by Telecom a couple of decades ago to criticise the concerns of locals about the cell phone towers then starting to appear on local churches etc.

    My point is there is money to be made, carers to be enhanced, when you are an ‘expert’ on the side of powerful corporations. So those who speak out and risk the wrath of the powerful, such as Mike Joy, are real heroes.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2070 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    your taxed dollar • Since Mar 2008 • 1366 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Littlewood, in reply to mark taslov,

    Studies done at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem concluded that people living in Beijing can expect to lose five or six years of their life based on the amount of pollution they breathe

    Most of NZ's issues with air pollution- at least in terms of particulate pollution- are related to poor quality home heating and insulation (something, that, to this Government's credit, they've tried to address through EECA's Warm Up NZ scheme). However, it's pretty bad in many towns, particularly in Timaru, where I work.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/timaru-herald/features/7318427/Something-in-the-air

    (As an aside to my comment about ECan commissioners' extraordinary powers- looking at the legislation, it pertains to their setting plans, such as their current Land and Water Regional Plan.)

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to llew40,

    The counter to that is, while tourism is responsible for 1 in 10 NZ jobs, for decades they have been (and are) seen as relatively low pay jobs, and in many quarters not seen as where NZ’s future economic growth priorities should lie

    TOURISM HAS ACTUALLY HARMED THE WEST COAST-

    in so many many ways- I can detail them but it will take time to get figures (water pollution (giardia introduced as an example): rates increases (and decreasing population, and hugely increased pollution of all kinds.)

    I *HATE* tourism as a driver (supposedly) of our economy-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • llew40, in reply to Islander,

    Fair enough Islander, I have not seen the effects of tourism on the West Coast. But maybe that detrimental impact supports an argument that NZ should be targeting quality rather than quantity in terms of tourism?

    Since Nov 2012 • 46 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Do you mean that the citizens, en masse, would have preferred to have fewer microwave ovens, LCDs , new cars ,synthetic carpets ,heat pumps, imported foods , computers etc. etc. etc., rather than have the increased export dollars that resulted from the sucking up of the water?

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 351 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to llew40,

    For what its worth (and I am the son of a coal-miner who votes Labour/Green) I think the PM has done a great job as tourism minister. But I also believe NZ will never be able to compete long-term with other tourism destinations like Thailand on a mass-market basis (as we will not be able to in agriculture), so our tourism future is more viable as a premium market, which infers higher value, and higher protection of what makes it premium.

    Agreed. However, Tourism is high impact and low yield (I think this is the point Islander is making). I like the notion of NZ being a high end destination, particularly for Australians (who're damn close and many don't bother). I don't like the probability of an overwhelming number of people crowding out every other 'destination' for next to no economic return or worse.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2229 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Of course those irrigated export dollars end up in fewer people's pockets than the en masse. And we don't have to do without technology to have sustainable farming.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16600 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Sacha,

    It is a very short- term view to hold that the export dollars end up in fewer people's pockets than the " en masse". You can't take it with you , you know. It will be spent one way or another i.e. it will be dissipated.
    But can you address the question of which option the masses would have preferred , given the choice?
    The trinkets or more water reaching the oceans?
    It is acknowledged that the result of the sucking up of the water was enrichment of the waterways.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 351 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Sacha,

    ". . . we don’t have to do without technology to have sustainable farming."

    Agreed , but less export dollars = less imported technology.
    Farmer Green's point is that we have to somehow reach a consensus about how much environmental exploitation we will tolerate in return for modern technological comforts.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 351 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    "But the problem isn’t limited to agriculture."

    Agreed ; a large proportion of the phosphorus entering our waters is coming from the cities and towns via the sewage outfalls to waterways.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 351 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Matthew Littlewood,

    to this Government's credit, they've tried to address through EECA's Warm Up NZ scheme

    I fully appreciate the nonpartisan approach Matthew (& Angus). The dinghy didn't spring a leak overnight, and no amount of amnesiac 'us and them' gets us anywhere fast. From any other angle it looks like our collective shortsightedness.

    your taxed dollar • Since Mar 2008 • 1366 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    it’s no good for tourists to go back home and tell their friends and families that the few people there are have a terrible attitude to that beautiful and formerly clean environment.

    Farmer Green thinks that it really doesn’t matter what they say if tourism aka recreational pollution ceases in a more enlightened future. If no more tourists come to Godzone , would that not be a good thing, cetera paribus , for the environment?

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 351 posts Report Reply

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