New Zealand: Polluted Paradise

New Zealand: Polluted Paradise

Directed by Naashon Zalk (2017)

This documentary is about the extreme degradation of New Zealand rivers and streams, regarded by many environmentalists as the most contaminated in the world.* The international OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development blames this country water contamination on dairy intensification subsidized by the government’s free irrigation scheme. In a country of 4.5 million people, dairy cows produce as much effluent as 90 million people. All this directly contradicts the “100% Pure” image promoted by New Zealand’s tourism industry.

The problem is aggravated by a fair amount of government corruption, which the film documents. For example, in 2010 the New Zealand government sacked the democratically elected Canterbury Regional Council when they opposed an intensive government irrigation project in a region totally unsuitable to dairying due to poor soil and low rainfall. The Council was replaced by government-appointed commissioners who implemented the irrigation project.

*Every year over 45,000 New Zealanders have their tap water contaminated with animal feces. In 2016 5,000 residents of Hawke’s Bay became seriously ill with feces-related pathogens.