Access to the outdoors is often thought of as central to the Kiwi way of life and a critical tourist drawcard. But some say we’re not doing enough to protect these assets. Much debate centres on the state of waterways, and what to do in the face of of climate change.
The quality and ownership of NZ’s freshwater has become a big issue. Across the board the political parties say we need to do a better job at keeping our rivers and lakes clean. But plans to fix it vary. There is debate, too, about ownership of water, and whether companies, including those based overseas, should pay to use or export it.
Around a third of NZ is publicly owned and protected, most of it by the Department of Conservation. Its job is to protect and preserve nature and wildlife while ensuring New Zealanders can access and enjoy it. Some have argued that they need more resources to protect the more than 4,000 endangered animals and plants in NZ.
In 2015 NZ joined most other countries in committing to limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius this century — the target scientists say is needed to avoid catastrophic climate change. Current Government policy is to reduce NZ’s greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, but some say that we need to be bolder.