What a delightfully awful few weeks it's been for the practitioners of the dark arts of public relations.

There's been veteran National Party maven, Michelle Boag, forced to confess to "casual racism", and the local friends of Israel claiming "indigenous rights" over Palestine.

Now the Dairy Board, squirming away, trying to persuade us it's not their cows, polluting New Zealand rivers and streams.

Talk about a feast of schadenfreude.


When Sir Peter Leitch got outed for his "light-hearted banter" after a vineyard lunch on Waiheke Island, he followed some classic PR advice.

He quickly apologised to the Maori woman who had taken offence, and, as the saying goes, stopped digging himself further into the ordure.

But his PR adviser failed to take her own advice.

Ms Boag, who'd honed her skills as PR to Prime Minister, Rob "go for the jugular" Muldoon, couldn't resist a body slam to the complainant. She told a Maori TV reporter the aggrieved party was "barely coffee-coloured" so ineligible to be a victim of racism.

When that hit the fan, Ms Boag admitted to suffering from "casual racism", trying to lump the rest of us in with her, saying "like most New Zealanders" she had no idea until now, what that was.

While she was digging herself deeper into the do-do on Waiheke, local Zionists were busy with their spades on the West Bank, highly indignant at New Zealand's vote at the United Nations Security Council - passed 14-0 - attacking Israel's illegal colonisation of Arab lands.

In a letter to Prime Minister Bill English they claimed Israel was only taking back "their indigenous homeland" dating back thousands of years.

I couldn't help wondering what their response would be when a coffee-coloured local turns up to their homes in Auckland's leafy suburbs and tells them to pack their bags, he's claiming his indigenous rights to his ancestral land.


While Ms Boag and the friends of Israel were digging away in their respective mires, up popped the dairy farmer lobby group, DairyNZ, to join them.

Apparently Greenpeace had run a TV advertisement demanding the Government clean up our waterways.

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

"Precious drinking water supplies are being polluted by industrial dairy farming and massive irrigation schemes."

The message is shocking but not new. The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has highlighted the issue in two recent reports.

After the first, in November 2013, Sir David Skegg, president of the Royal Society of New Zealand wrote in the Herald that the commissioner's message was blunt.

"Unless New Zealand takes urgent steps to slow the expansion of dairying, many more rivers and lakes will be degraded. None of the steps being taken to lessen environmental impacts can reverse this trend in the near future."

The June 2015 update report notes that between 2008 and 2012, an additional 157,900 hectares of sheep/beef and other land had been converted to dairying.

Cows, it said, "gush litres of urine at a time" which quickly leaches into the ground water and into the natural waterways. This overwhelmed our rivers with excess nitrogen, to say nothing of assorted pathogens.

I don't recall the Greenpeace advertisements. As a volunteer group, the campaign was probably not long or at peak hours.

The dairy industry would have been wise to let it pass. But instead they stormed off to the Advertising Standards Authority to have a bleat about the adverts being "false and misleading".

The ASA has now come out rejecting the complaint saying the statements "would not come as a surprise to most New Zealanders".

This being the news dead, "silly season", all the claims made by Greenpeace in the advertisements I didn't see, have now been aired again widely, on radio, television, and newspaper front pages for free, guaranteeing that every New Zealander begins the new year reminded of what dairying is doing to our waterways.

But now neck deep in cow urine, DairyNZ continues to dig.

Spokeswoman Maggie Kerrigan says it will appeal the ASA ruling. Shit oh dear!

Before they drown in it, could I suggest they learn from the old veteran, Ms Boag, and admit to a case of "casual pollution".