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Waterways in peril, finds New Zealand Geographic

Waterways in peril, finds New Zealand Geographic

In the first of six special issues celebrating 25 years of publication, New Zealand Geographic presents compelling new evidence on the state of the nation’s water, our most precious natural asset.

New Zealand has the world’s purest water, and some of the most polluted rivers. We are among the top-ten water-rich countries per capita, and yet squander most of it. Water turns the turbine of New Zealand’s primary industries, and the more we irrigate—particularly in Canterbury—the greater the growth in GDP.

“Economic development and environmental integrity are at odds,” says New Zealand Geographic Editor James Frankham. “How we reconcile growth of agriculture and industry with those intrinsic values of ecosystem health will be one of the greatest concerns of the next 25 years.”

The 12,000-word feature—the first of six special issues on the state of the nation to celebrate New Zealand Geographic’s 25th year—was more than a year in production. It summarises the science and distils the debate to issue a sobering warning.

“Blind faith in bounty,” writes Dave Hansford, “is misplaced. What we thought inexhaustible is now spent. What we assumed would always be pure is now polluted. Having drained and dammed and dirtied, the solution we have shunned—self-imposed limits—now confronts us as our one remaining option.”

Future issues in the magazine’s 25th year will focus on cities and population, land and food, ice and climate, forests and conservation, seas and sustainability—the concerns that the nation will grapple with over the next quarter century.

New Zealand Geographic has been the journal of record for New Zealanders for a quarter of a century. The founding editor, Kennedy Warne, still writes for the title regularly as Editor at Large, as do many of the original contributors. Last year the magazine won Newsstand Magazine of the Year at the Canon Media Awards. This is unusual performance within the landscape of print media outlets that are folding, consolidating or being acquired by large multi-nationals.

“New Zealand Geographic represents something timeless and important to Kiwis,” says publisher James Frankham. “The magazine has maintained extremely high editorial standards across the 25 years, with a unique emphasis on commissioned photography to bring stories of our environment and society to life.”

In 2014 the entire archive will be available in digital form to schools and libraries around the country through the Government’s EPIC Portal; a tribute to the scale, importance and public value of this body of work, and a reflection of the magazine’s ongoing public mandate.

The January/February 2014 issue goes on sale December 23, 2013, with a free 32-page 2014 calendar.

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