The farmers who booed Winston Peters at the water tax protest in Morrinsville in September may owe him an apology.
It has come from farming leaders and is a pledge to all New Zealanders.
This is no ordinary vow; it has been made by industry heavyweights -- Fonterra chairman John Wilson, Federated Farmers president and dairy farmer Katie Milne and DairyNZ chairman Michael Spaans among others.
They say as farming leaders they care deeply about our land, water and environment and the legacy we will leave for future generations.
They agree many NZ rivers are not in the condition we all want them to be.
“While there has been progress onfarm in the past 10 years, we know there is more to be done and that it must be done faster and together.
“Today, we’re standing up and saying we haven’t always got this right. More work is required and we will play our part.
“It is now time for us to lead and partner with all stakeholders to improve NZ’s precious natural environment. That is why we have all come together for the first time as farming leaders and made the following formal pledge.”
It’s an ambitious goal because it’s the right thing to do – for all New Zealanders.
There is no timeline to the commitment; each community will decide for themselves.
The farming leaders are honest: the goal will be difficult to meet and they don’t have all the answers today on how it’s going to be achieved.
“A number of rivers already meet this goal and some may not meet this commitment for a range of reasons beyond our control. What we do know is that some rivers will require new tools and science to make them clean enough for swimming.”
But this is not a task just for the farming community; other sectors, including urban areas, also have a role to play if we are to achieve our goal of swimmable rivers.
There is a huge amount of work going on already on farms up and down the country to improve water quality and these efforts will need to increase. The leaders say we must play our part to help create a better NZ.
“We are doing this because we want our children and their children to be able to swim in the same rivers that we did as children. And by swim we mean swim. Today we are committing to lead as we start our journey towards our goal of swimmable rivers. This is simply the right thing to do.”