Swimmable rivers or more hooves on pastures—is there a way of improving water quality without paralysing the primary sector? Or has agriculture reached an environmental tipping point?
Water, our most precious natural asset, offers amenity, a habitat for aquatic species and a focus for recreation. But it also turns the turbines of industry and powers New Zealand’s agricultural economy. Economic development and environmental integrity are at odds in a struggle for control over this great resource. Are we mortgaging our future for a little more economic growth?
Dame Anne Salmond explores the radical nature of the settlement between the Whanganui River iwi and the Government signed in August 2014, recognising the river as a legal person in its own right.
Dismissed as worthless, pestilent places, wetlands—where the water table is at or near the Earth’s surface—are anything but. They purify water, prevent floods and erosion, store carbon, provide resources like peat and flax, process nutrients, act as nurseries and offer recreation and aesthetic value.
Mike and Sharon Barton are figuring out how farming and clean waterways
John Baker invented a revolutionary piece of agricultural machinery, a seed-planting drill proven to increase crop yields while decreasing carbon emissions from arable farming. Bringing it to market and convincing farmers to use it has been his life’s work.
For 200 years the Hauraki Plains and Firth of Thames have been bent to the commercial interests of man. Today, the region is a case study for the carrying capacity of land and sea. How resilient are our natural systems, and how much development is too much?
Extreme weather takes its toll on rural communities, which feel the wrath of seasonal variances and the deep undercurrent of climate change too.
A panel of experts discusses the challenges of managing water resources in New Zealand. Includes include Professor John Montgomery, the Chair of Marine Science; the ecologist Dr Marjorie van Roon; and Dr Alys Longley, a lecturer in Dance Studies.
Imagine an underground reservoir so large that it has its own tides. A spring of such clarity that the term "crystal clear" is actual, not imaginary. Where distance is deceptive, and divers in its waters seem to hang suspended, as if in space. There is such a place: Pupu Springs, source of the clearest natural water in the country, lying five miles west of the township of Takaka in Golden Bay.
Most of New Zealand’s lowland areas are now devoted to food production. How we produce food for consumption, sale and export continues to shape our landscape and lives. Can farmers improve yields and use resources more efficiently? Can consumers reconnect with the land and farm practices to make more informed choices and reduce waste? What is the future of our food?
Morgan Gorge, a spectacular chasm on the South Island’s West Coast, is a showpiece of whitewater power. If the Minister of Conservation grants a concession to electricity company Westpower to build a hydro-generation scheme on the Waitaha River, Morgan Gorge will be reduced to a trickle for much of the year. Opponents say this would be an environmental tragedy and a cultural loss, supporters suggest it's the best use of the resource...
Auckland is a thirsty city. It has always been that way. Whether water is required for washing the car, watering the garden, taking a shower or just a making a cuppa, Auckland’s demand seems insatiable.
An exploration of New Zealand’s Fiordland, from icebound mountain peak to the silty fiord floor.
The weather forecasts for central Marlborough had a monotonous sameness last summer, as El Nino kept clouds away and turned pastures to brick. Sheep farmers like Ted Kearney (whose Atacama Station is named after the driest place on Earth) were forced to sell stock and feed straw and pellets to their remaining animals. Elsewhere in the district, which these days defines itself more by wine than by wool, the drought brought better fortunes.
New Zealand’s economy was built on ‘the back of a sheep’, but in recent decades, the fortunes of wool have been largely eclipsed by the dairy industry. The twin strands of the fine- and coarse-wool industries have taken diverging paths, focusing on the economic challenge of adding value in New Zealand, rather than exporting the raw material. Will wool rebound?
In an age when rivers are managed to satisfy the competing demands of dozens of users, the raw power of a mighty river such as the Waitaki is rarely seen. Draining the central mountains of the South Island from Mt Cook National Park south to the Lindis Pass, the waters of the Waitaki—"water of tears"—now churn the turbines of a bevy of power stations before being siphoned off to irrigate dry plains closer to the coast.
An engineer and on Christchurch fish and Game Council and long-time bach owner on Selwyn River—first hand witness to changes in water quality.
Drawing on a vast catchment in the mountains west of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea, the Clutha River—New Zealand’s largest by volume—flows through the parched country of Central Otago before pouring into the Pacific Ocean. It delivers precious irrigation water to the region’s burgeoning horticultural enterprises and turns the turbines of two of the nation’s largest power stations. But problems with sedimentation in the hydro lakes and a boom in property development along the Clutha’s banks are beginning to threaten the river’s integrity.
A panel of experts discuss of water rights in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Milk has long been a favourite with Kiwi kids and their parents, and proponents of agricultural production. The dairy industry in the country's largest, accounting for 20 per cent of export income, and New Zealand dairy products make up almost a third of the global dairy trade.
Modern agriculture’s rhythms are urgent, its scale corporate. Driving across the Canterbury plains today there are futuristic grain research stations, slick billboards promoting yield-boosting technologies, and the now-ubiquitous centre-pivot irrigators that extend 500 metres like pylons brought to earth.
I look forward to October, traditionally the opening month of the trout fishing season in the south, very much, and have done every year since 1953–54. That’s when I first became attracted to, then entranced by, rivers and streams. I found rapture, excitement, mystery and magic there.