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How fresh is our water?

New Zealand's rivers and lakes are under increasing pressure, according to the latest national report from the Ministry for the Environment and Stats New Zealand about the state of freshwater. The report measures the quality of our waterways, water quantity and flows, biodiversity in rivers and lakes, and the cultural health of freshwater.

This is the first time that Māori measuring techniques have been included in the national report. Secretary for the environment Vicky Robertson says working with Māori has provided a different perspective on the health of our waters and has been vital to the data collection process for this report.

A new national report released today shows the health of our waterways is waning.

Secretary for Environment, Vicky Robertson says, “At a community level what we need is everybody engaged and looking after the health of that waterway and understanding both. What we give to the water, but also what the water gives to us, and I think the Māori perspective really brings that to the floor.

The report confirms that our water resources face many challenges. Environment Secretary Vicky Robertson says that traditional Māori techniques are essential to the health of our waterways.

Robertson says, “For every regional council in New Zealand, they're going to have to think about Te Mana o te Wai when they think about their waterways. And and I think that this is a really strong tool for councils and a strong tool for communities to think about all the values of their waterways to make sure it’s healthy.

The report goes on to say nitrogen levels are getting worse at 55% and getting better at 28%, phosphorus levels are getting better at 42% and getting worse at 25%, 72% of the native fish are at risk of extinction.

Liz Mac Pherson (Government Statistics) says, “Over time the idea is to have an increasing number of sites where the kaitiaki of those sites are helping us understand the health of them. And if we can build that out over the nation then again that provides us with yet another set of information that helps us understand the health of our systems.”

The Ministry of Environment are encouraging more families and communities to help save our waterways.