Jamie Morton

Jamie Morton is science reporter at the NZ Herald.

Govt accused of ignoring advice on clean, green brand

A  New York Times  article called New Zealand's 100 per cent pure image 'fantastical'. Photo / Supplied
A New York Times article called New Zealand's 100 per cent pure image 'fantastical'. Photo / Supplied

The Government has been accused of going against its own advice over backing New Zealand's clean, green brand with better environmental monitoring.

A 2011 report to the Ministry of Economic Development's Green Growth Advisory Group, released to the Green Party under the Official Information Act, urged the Government to invest in environmental state and trend monitoring.

The Government was to have published its consolidated five-yearly State of the Environment Report later that year, but has scrapped the comprehensive survey.

"The Government should invest in economic and environmental state and trend monitoring to give a credible evidence base to support New Zealand's brand position," a preliminary recommendation in the report stated.

It added this would help to "build credibility of our image" through transparent and independent reporting, including "being open about the environmental challenges".

The advisory group was also told how New Zealand's reputation might be at risk, with the ability to authenticate claims supporting our national brand "increasing in importance".

"The National Government wants to use the clean, green brand but doesn't care that the reality behind it is being eroded by its actions," Green MP Eugenie Sage said.

Ms Sage said the the document noted the need for good reporting, but the Government had "done the reverse" by ditching the report.

Report cards on "environmental indicators" were still being published, and the latest sparked outrage when the Herald revealed how more than half of monitored river sites were unsafe for swimming.

Environment Minister Amy Adams said changes to the Resource Management Act, now before Parliament, would eventually require authorities and councils to monitor the environment "according to specified priorities and methodologies".

"A reliable system will strengthen the credibility of New Zealand's clean, green brand by requiring independent, regular and nationally consistent reporting on the state of our environment, including our waterways," she said.

New Zealand's long-pushed 100 per cent Pure brand also came under further fire when a New York Times article called the image "fantastical".

Last month a Herald-DigiPoll found just over one in 10 Kiwis believe New Zealand can claim to be 100 per cent pure.

Quoted
"Information on our environmental, economic and social state and trends is essential to our ability to authenticate claims supporting our national reputation and to form the evidence base for New Zealand's Green Growth story."

Report to the MoED, 2011.
"The National Government wants to use the clean, green brand but doesn't care that the reality behind it is being eroded by its actions."

Green MP Eugenie Sage
"It is essential that improvements to the quality and accessibility of data in New Zealand are made so that we can debate the issues rather than the integrity of the data." Environment Minister Amy Adams

- NZ Herald

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