A display at Te Papa showing dirty water which was supposedly from a farm stream has angered Todd Muller, who says it's part of the museum's continued attacks on New Zealand's farmers.

"I've just had a guts full bluntly" National's spokesman for Primary Industries told The Country's Jamie Mackay.

"They have this water profile up there, interactive for people and it shows different types of waters in New Zealand and one of them is one from a farm stream and it was obviously chocolate coloured".

Te Papa said in earlier reports the dairy stream example was one of nine, and the bottles had been created for display purposes only.

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Muller told Mackay the display showed the water as an example of cows "pooing in the streams" and was part of Te Papa continuing to "have a go" at farming environmentally.

National's spokesman for primary industries. Photo / George Novak
National's spokesman for primary industries. Photo / George Novak

"[Te Papa has been] encouraging young people to go dairy and meat free for three days a week to be climate champions. They position the dairy sector in an interactive display as needing to lose a significant number of their cows to be part of where we need to be in the future for climate and now you overlay this water thing.

Muller said farmers were "frustrated" by being portrayed as environmentally irresponsible when the reality was "fundamentally different".

"They've been working day in and day out for decades to improve it and they get absolutely nothing apart from being kicked in the guts from our national museum. No wonder they're over it".

Muller took to Twitter last week, questioning the museum over its display and asking farmers to send in photos of bottles full of their own stream water.

The request sparked a debate on Twitter as farmers took up Muller's challenge and posted images of their own "dirty" stream water.


Te Papa responded to Muller's Tweet saying: "Kia ora Todd. This display shows that water quality can't be judged on its appearance. The dairy stream example is one of 9, and sits right next to a city storm water bottle and below a forestry stream water bottle".

Stuff reported Te Papa spokeswoman Kate Camp said the bottles of water were not actually samples but had been created for display purposes only.

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"The water in each bottle is dyed to symbolise different kinds of water," she said.

The Country had contacted Camp for comment who said she was happy to talk on the show later this week.

Listen to Jamie Mackay's interview with Todd Muller on The Country below:

Muller said Te Papa was up for its annual review in Parliament tomorrow and he intended to ask the museum some "pretty tough questions on behalf of farms in New Zealand".

"They are accountable to be the curator of our national stories. Now when are they going to pick up the pen and start telling the truth around what it's like to be a farmer in this country, the importance of farming in this country and actually acknowledge and celebrate it as opposed to condemn[ing] it".