A new documentary highlighting the plight of Rotorua dairy farmers and their struggle with controversial water quality rules will premiere in the city on Sunday.

The Milkman's Paradox has been produced by United States-based Fulbright scholar Christina Walker who has been in New Zealand since February working on the project.

Miss Walker has filmed, edited and even written the soundtrack for the film .

The film's synopsis states, "as the water quality of Lake Rotorua changes, so changes the lives of its surrounding dairy farmers.

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"For over 10 years, farmers have engaged in a community-wide debate on nutrient limits to clean up the second largest lake in New Zealand's North Island.

"This ongoing process has left many with a feeling of uncertainty about the future of their business and their town. With new environmental regulations comes change on a social, economic, and cultural level. This documentary ... explores how dairy farmers adapt amidst the changing landscape of what it means to farm sustainably."

Miss Walker told the Rotorua Daily Post New Zealand was a world leader in terms of sustainable farming.

"As for farmers in Rotorua, they are being asked to strike a balance between environmental and economic sustainability under nutrient limits that are far more strict than in other regions."

She said in terms of lake water quality the problems were inter-generational and were not just the fault of the farming community today.

"This generation of farmers are having to bear the burden of history. The average age of groundwater entering the lake is around 60 years old. Farmers are being asked to help restore water quality now so that future generations benefit."

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She said the documentary would present a snippet of what life was like for farmers and their families and the paradox they faced with the government wanting to increase dairy exports but also wanting farmers to take more responsibility for the environment.

"The role of story-telling is for the viewer to see life from a different perspective, which hopefully leads to empathy and constructive debate over any finger pointing or increased tension."

She interviewed a range of local farmers for the film and attended council meetings.

The Milkman's Paradox

* Documentary on Rotorua's dairy farmers

* By United States-based Fulbright scholar Christina Walker

* Concentrates on how farmers farm sustainably and economically while dealing with environmental regulations

* Premieres at the Novotel Hotel on Sunday from 6.30pm, free