Developments in science will help prevent and mitigate the country's freshwater quality issues, say farming leaders who have formed a group to address the degradation of the country's rivers.
For the first time in this country, a group of pastoral farming leaders have joined forces and committed to working towards making New Zealand's rivers swimmable for future generations.
Heading organisations such as Dairy NZ, Federated Farmers and Beef + Lamb NZ, the Farming Leaders Group, made up of seven members said to represent 80 per cent of the country's pastoral farmed land, formed in May this year to work on issues of importance to the sector.
One of those issues, and a hot button election topic this year, was water quality, and gathered on the edge of the Ngaruroro River in Hawke's Bay today, the group explained that more needed to be done, and done faster.
Group spokesperson and Federated Farmers president Katie Milne, a West Coast dairy farmer, said many of the country's rivers were not in the condition everyone wanted them to be.
"We're standing up and saying we haven't always got this right. More work is required and we will play our part.
"There's a lot of good work being done by catchment groups in the regions already who are funding mitigation themselves.
"It's not very clear how big the challenge will be - it's an ongoing journey and about learning new things, but we are committed to do the right thing."
Hawke's Bay sheep and beef farmer Bruce Wills, who was also chair of Apiculture NZ and on the boards of Horticulture NZ, Ravensdown and the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge said scientific advances were enabling changes that would not have been foreseen in the last couple of generations.
Such science also meant it was possible to achieve environmental gains, but not at the expense of the bottom line.
"With good management and good science you can achieve economic profit with minimal impact on the environment.
"We are going to solve the problem, the science around managing nutrient losses is very exciting - it will take a little time but we will get there."
Beef + Lamb NZ chairman James Parsons said that although there were legitimate concerns about water quality, from a global perspective New Zealand was not doing too badly.
"New Zealand's water quality is up with some of the best in the world - these are global challenges and this is an opportunity for New Zealand to lead the world and to share our innovations."
Along with Ms Milne, Mr Wills and Mr Parsons, the other group members were Dairy NZ chairman Michael Spaans, Meat Industry Association chair John Loughlin, Central Hawke's Bay sheep and beef farmer Mike Petersen, and Fonterra chair John Wilson.