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  • Writer's pictureGrant McLachlan - Stuff - Column

Time to put 100% into making NZ pure

TIDY UP NEEDED: If we spent as much money on cleaning up our environment then our 100 Per Cent Pure brand would hold water, rather than sewage.

Will Rogers once said, "If marketers spent as much money on their product as they do on advertising, they wouldn't need to advertise it."

In the case of New Zealand, if we spent as much money on cleaning up our environment as we do on pushing the 100% Pure brand then our brand would be credible.

In the last Budget, the tourism minister - Prime Minister John Key - announced a $158m boost over four years to the $120 million-plus existing tourism promotion budget. If the same amount was spent on cleaning up our rivers and beaches then we wouldn't need to spend so much pitching an increasingly problematic slogan.

Most of the blame for New Zealand's polluted rivers has been directed towards dairy farming. Little focus has been directed towards the urban sewage and stormwater schemes that are predominantly located alongside flood-prone river channels.

Just a glance at towns on aerial maps, such as Google Maps, highlight how significant the problem is. Look at the colour of the water downstream of towns.

At last estimate, Masterton ratepayers faced a $55 million bill to upgrade their scheme along the banks of the Ruamahanga River. Many regional towns around the country face similar ballooning costs.

The agricultural sector is our largest exporter. It is in their best interests to maintain environmental standards as it affects their brand. Other predominantly urban sectors don't necessarily have that incentive.

For the farming industry, the issue of effluent run-off is mostly the proximity of grazing to waterways. More sensible land usage, cut-off drains and riparian planting is often the most practical solution.

Anyone who swims, fishes or sails in our lakes, rivers and beaches will tell you that the single greatest problem is rubbish that enters our waterways through urban stormwater. Shopping bags, cigarette butts, parking tickets and aluminium cans choke waterways, our aquatic life, and are disgusting to be around.

Across the Tasman, there is Clean Up Australia Day. On this side of the ditch there are so many organisations that clean up beaches, roadsides, and plant trees that the message gets fragmented.

Remember the iconic campaign "Be a Tidy Kiwi" and "Keep New Zealand Beautiful"? If we threw our energy behind Keep New Zealand Beautiful Week in September, then our reputation would hold water, rather than sewage.

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