A controversial Greenpeace TV ad has been given the green light after the dairy industry attempted to shut it down.

The Advertising Standards Authority ruled the campaign was truthful and not misleading.

The ad showed children splashing in clean water and urged Kiwis to petition the Government to clean up waterways poisoned by the dairy farming industry.

"More than 60 per cent of monitored rivers are unsafe to swim in," said the ad.


"Water supplies are being polluted by industrial dairy farming and massive irrigation schemes.

"Greenpeace is working to change this so our kids can have pure and clear water to drink and enjoy."

Another Greenpeace advertisement raising awareness of the impact of dairy farming on water ways. PHOTO/DUNCAN BROWN
Another Greenpeace advertisement raising awareness of the impact of dairy farming on water ways. PHOTO/DUNCAN BROWN

The Advertising Standards Authority received a total of 12 complaints about the ad, including one from Dairy NZ. Their complaint claimed statements and images in the ad were "false and misleading".

In a ruling, the Advertising Standards Authority rejected all complaints.

The ASA's complaints board agreed that the statements made in the advertisement "would not come as a surprise to most New Zealanders."

Greenpeace's sustainable agriculture campaigner Genevieve Toop wasn't surprised by their decision.

"It's simple. The more dairy cows there are, the more polluted our rivers and streams become."

The ASA accepted Greenpeace's position that "the impact of industrial dairy farming on water quality is widely documented."

"This is the message that the dairy industry has tried, and failed, to stop the public from hearing," said Toop.

DairyNZ spokeswoman Maggie Kerrigan said they are appealing the decision and are not in a position to respond to media at the moment.

She said they have until January 23 to submit their appeal.

"The Advertising Standards Authority have requested we not make any statement until they have made theirs."

A Greenpeace statement said that by trying to ban the ad it had the opposite desired effect for the dairy industry. They thought more people viewed the ad as it became known as "the ad they didn't want you to see".

Following Dairy NZ's complaint, more than a quarter of a million New Zealanders went online and viewed it on Greenpeace's Facebook page.

Greenpeace provided the ASA with a 13 page file of scientific evidence pointing to nitrate and pathogen pollution of our waterways as a result of industrial dairying.

Toop said the Government's own figures show 62 per cent of New Zealand's monitored rivers are already unsafe for swimming.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has repeatedly drawn a clear link between industrial dairying and water pollution.

"Industrial Dairying is being confronted with its own truth, and doesn't like it," said Toop.

"The decision by the ASA confirms that we have a major problem. Our ever-expanding dairy industry is polluting our waterways with sediment, pathogens and nitrates."

Toop wished Dairy NZ would concentrate its resources into addressing "the very real problems of river degradation, rather than trying to pretend the problem doesn't exist."