New Zealand: NOT 100% Pure

I have an admission. It is a rather embarrassing one for a person who is as proud of my country as I am to make, but it has to be said. This nation that I and 4.6 million other New Zealanders call home has been subjecting you and millions of others to misleading advertising about the state of our natural environment.

You might have heard of the “100% Pure” advertising, marketing New Zealand as an environmentally pure location, pure enjoyment and fun. Yes it is pure enjoyment and yes this country is a lot of fun, but it is not environmentally pure. And it has not been for sometime.

There are some very good reasons why I am saying this:

  1. Anyone who has been an active recreationalist in our freshwater lakes and rivers cannot help but notice the decline in aquatic health of these features, artificial or otherwise. It stems in large part from excessive dairying, which is water intensive and although it creates significant jobs, the number of cow herds has become unsustainable. For every cow there is the urine and faeces of 10 human beings. These are rich in nitrate and when they get into water courses they contaminate drinking water supplies as the Hawkes Bay is finding out to its detriment.
  2. Our environmental footprint per individual New Zealander is substantial. If the whole world had the environmental footprint of a New Zealander, we would need all of the current planet and 95% of another equivalent planet. And it is well known that there is no Planet B to realistically colonized in the foreseeable future. Although it creates emissions – there is no 100% pollution free way of dealing with waste other than not doing the activity/using the device that caused it – high temperature incinerators may help (or contribute the to problem).
  3. Our marine environment is suffering the effects of a combination of problems including over fishing and trawlers using dredge nets that act like a scoop on the seabed. A failure to address the decline of critically listed species such as the Maui Dolphin, which is believed to number only 55 in the wild means such species may become extinct in our lifetime.
  4. Electronic waste is not a concept many New Zealanders are familiar with, yet we generate about 80,000 tons per annum or the displacement of a decent size aircraft carrier. It includes unwanted dumb/smart phones, kitchen appliances such as stoves and microwaves, televisions, camera’s, MP3/4 players and so forth,

This is not the first time valid concerns have been raised about the misleading advertising and nor is it the first time New Zealand has been found wanting on the subject. And for that I think New Zealand needs to do the honest thing and apologize. It needs to take down for good, the “100% Pure” advertising and come up with some other slogan, because “100% Pure” we are not.

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