Response from Alfred Ngaro
National Party Candidate
What is your understanding of the challenges facing Te Wai o Pareira/Henderson Creek?
Having grown up in the West and especially Te Atatu we lived near Tui Glen and would swim in the local water holes as kids. As a local resident I have seen first-hand the issues of concern about the pollution of our Te Wai O Pareira and Henderson Creeks. I have participated in the local Te Atatu Mud Run and even cleaned the foreshore around Orangahina.
As Auckland grows as a city, so does our footprint and constant encroachment on the natural landscape we are nestled within. Te Wai o Pareira is an essential connection from the Waitākere Ranges, through the city, and down to the sea.
It was once an awa full of life, many of us can recall that growing up we would see snapper and flounder, but like so many other urban waterways we have wrongly come to accept our new reality.
As an urban river, Te Wai o Pareira faces significant environmental challenges as a result of urban intensification and the lingering effects of an historic landfill. Pollution from factories, sewerage and storm water in-flows, run-off from roading, and intentional dumping of rubbish have all accumulated to result in the waterway we have today. It is thanks to the significant efforts of volunteers and local champions that the river is not as bad as it may otherwise be.
Caring for and restoring waterways like this is challenging due to the overlap of local authorities and various priorities of NGOs, as well as a need for significant investment in infrastructure and long term planning. A substantial part of the environmental challenge then, is the social challenge of getting us to all work together.
Do you have an aspirational vision for the state of waterways in our community?
Just like all New Zealanders, the National Party want to see improvements in water quality in our country. But we want to see balanced, fair and sensible policies that are based on robust evidence. Our freshwater regulations need to be based on the best available science and need to be a joint effort between urban and rural communities.
It tends to be urban waterways, like our local river, that now have the worst water quality – around half of Auckland’s beeches were under a high risk status for swimming last summer, and three quarters of urban waste water is breaching resource consent.
National is committed to a cleaner Waitemata Harbour and cleaner rivers in our communities. As our cities grow, we must constantly adapt and evolve, using technology and science to improve the ways we can operate more efficiently and take greater care of our resources.
National’s vision is of a post-Covid economy that is greener, smarter and better than the one we had before. New Zealanders want to be outdoors, to spend our summers fishing and swimming, we want our water quality improved so this can continue to be part of our kiwi way of life.
Does your party have a policy that will improve water quality in Te Wai o Pareira/Henderson Creek in the foreseeable future?
New Zealand’s environment is central to our quality of life and our national identity, and out West we love our proximity to both nature and the city. Responsible stewardship of our environment is essential if we are going to secure the type of future we want for our tamariki and mokopuna. We need to make smart, strategic decisions today that will leave our natural resources in a healthier state for the generations to come.
We are committed to ensuring our water quality is improved and will do this through responsible stewardship of the environment, with a science based approach. National will work with local authorities, community groups and iwi as solutions to these environmental issues are worked out. We recognise that iwi have a particular interest in water within their tribal areas and, when last in Government, we amended the RMA to ensure iwi have a say in how councils in their region manage freshwater.
When we left office, the majority of rivers had improving water quality because of our commitment to environmental management. Alongside maintaining many of the water quality rules that have been put in place over the last 10 or so years, in the coming weeks we will be announcing measures to invest in improving urban water quality.
Does your party have any policy around investment in the sewerage and stormwater networks in Te Atatu/Massey areas?
Decisions about investment in sewerage and stormwater networks are best made by the local authorities that govern the area, rather than centralised in Wellington. National does not at this stage have any specific policies about investment of this nature in Te Atatū and Massey, but as the party of infrastructure we will work alongside the local government as they address specific concerns.
Please keep an eye out here for more of our environmental policies as they are released in the coming weeks.