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Majority of New Zealanders see irrigation as good

30 January 2014

Majority of New Zealanders see irrigation as good

A new independent phone poll survey, commissioned by Irrigation New Zealand, reveals that New Zealanders – regardless of political leaning - see irrigation as good.

The poll also confirms that New Zealanders recognise the link between irrigation and their ability to access cheap and plentiful produce in their supermarkets.

The survey canvassed 1,000 respondents from Auckland, Canterbury, Wellington, Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay to better understand public perceptions of irrigation. Irrigation CEO, Andrew Curtis, says he didn’t expect such a positive response to irrigation from the New Zealand public and is encouraged by the results.

“Close to two-thirds overall agree that irrigation is good for New Zealand. This appears to be the case across the political spectrum which reinforces our belief in the need for a bi-partisan approach to irrigation,” he says.

“In an election year our plea is for politicians to come together to develop a strong vision to continue modernising irrigation infrastructure and practice which would drive sustainable development and achieve benefits for all.”

The poll also identified food production, water management and economic growth as major benefits of irrigation. Environmental impact was identified as a concern and there was a call from respondents for irrigation to be used responsibly – for irrigators to limit losses from nutrients as a result of irrigation; for water use to continue to be monitored and for water wastage to be limited.

Andrew Curtis says that irrigation is not just a rural issue and that all New Zealanders need to use water efficiently. The focus now needs to turn to urban and rural water storage development. Providing more information about irrigation to the public is also essential he says.

“The survey shows us New Zealand recognise irrigation’s role in producing affordable and diverse food, but they want to know more about how irrigation works, who is responsible and how it impacts the environment,” he comments.

“We are working with agencies, organisations and individuals to minimise the impact of irrigation on our rivers and river flow and water quality limits are being set so that irrigators sustainably manage the water we all value.”

A summary of the phone poll survey is included below.

Irrigation New Zealand Phone Poll Summary
Sample size: 1,000 people
Sample selection: Random selection of 10,000 telephone numbers in Auckland, Canterbury, Wellington, Hawke’s Bay, Hamilton and Wairarapa
Sample criteria: Aged 18 or older
Maximum sampling error (at 50%): +/- 3.1% @ 95% confidence level

The Poll was conducted as part of a Research project lead by Silvereye Communications on behalf of Irrigation New Zealand and its partner organizations.

Do you know anyone that uses irrigation?
Overall 40% of respondents knew someone that used irrigation and 60% did not. This ratio decreased for respondents with Labour and Maori party political alliances and increased for National, Green and NZ First.

NationalLabourGreenNZ FirstMaori
Yes42%36%49%44%33%
No58%64%51%56%67%

What do you see as the major benefits of irrigation?
Food production and its connection to food availability and price was seen as the major benefit of irrigation. Better water management and economic growth were also seen as benefits. The responses were fairly consistent regardless of political alliances.

NationalLabourGreenNZ FirstMaori
Food production64%59%67%78%78%
Water management9%12%10%6%4%
Economic growth6%6%8%9%0%
Other7%4%7%0%0%
Need more information14%19%7%7%19%

What do you see as potential major drawbacks of irrigation?
The potential environmental impact from irrigation, particularly its direct impact (abstraction of water from rivers), was seen as the major drawback of irrigation. Aesthetic issues and individuals profiteering from the water resource were not seen as drawbacks. Notably a number of respondents said they needed independent information before they could respond.

NationalLabourGreenNZ FirstMaori
Environmental Impact58%60%77%60%54%
Rich farmers1%0%1%0%0%
Unsightly0%2%1%0%0%
Other11%9%11%11%5%
Need more information30%28%11%30%41%

Do you think irrigation is overall good or bad for NZ?
Overall respondents thought irrigation was good for NZ, however for those with political alliances to the Green and the Maori parties the margin of support was reduced. Again a number of respondents said they needed independent information before they could respond.

NationalLabourGreenNZ FirstMaori
Good80%66%39%70%47%
Bad5%9%27%25%25%
Need more information15%25%34%5%28%

What is most important for NZ’s economy - how we use our land or water?
Managing both land and water together was clearly seen as most important for NZ’s economy.

NationalLabourGreenNZ FirstMaori
How we use our land5%9%1%0%7%
How we use our water6%8%12%17%36%
Both87%82%87%80%57%
Need more information1%1%0%3%0%

What do you think makes an irrigation project a responsible one?
Managing water and nutrients through setting limits, measuring and monitoring were seen as key for responsible irrigation. The need for water storage also featured prominently. Notably charging for water was not seen as important. Again a number of respondents said they needed independent information before they could respond.

NationalLabourGreenNZ FirstMaori
Water is stored - not taken from rivers during the summer16%15%24%10%16%
Water and nutrients are limited (managed) and measured38%30%27%36%45%
Water is paid for0%1%0%0%8%
Need more information23%27%22%16%17%
Other23%26%16%22%14%

What was your party vote at the last election?

NationalLabourGreenNZ FirstMaori
Political alliances38%22%6%2%1%

IrrigationNZ is the national body representing irrigators and the irrigation industry. Its mission is to promote excellence in irrigation throughout New Zealand.

ENDS

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