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New Zealand: Polluted Paradise

Monday 28 August 2017

New Zealand: Polluted Paradise

Al Jazeera English investigates New Zealand’s freshwater crisis

New Zealand’s sparkling and abundant rivers and lakes are fundamental to its image as a land of outstanding natural beauty – key features of a supposedly clean, green environment brand that attracts visitors from around the world.

But in a new two-part, year long, documentary investigation, Al Jazeera’s People & Power series discovers a murkier reality hidden in the depths: a disturbing tale of polluted and dried-up waterways, questionable irrigation schemes, an over-mighty farming lobby and claims of undue government interference.

New Zealand: Polluted Paradise (Part 1) airs on THURSDAY, 31 AUGUST 2017 AT 10.30 AM AND 9:30 PM

In part one of New Zealand: Polluted Paradise, filmmaker Naashon Zalk examines plans for a controversial dam and irrigation project, the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme, in Hawke’s Bay.

Its supporters have seen the scheme as a solution to drought problems, which have hampered the region's economic development. Opponents say it would have damaging consequences for the environment, leading to a huge increase in intensive dairy farming, which has already caused serious water pollution in the area’s fresh water supplies.

Following a 2016 drinking water contamination incident in Havelock North, which caused thousands of people to become sick with gastroenteritis, dozens of whom were hospitalised, a regional election was held that looked set to determine the future of the Ruataniwha scheme. Zalk and his crew went behind the scenes with the campaigns of two local politicians, one in favour of the project and one who opposed it.

Against this background as arguments rage, the film then delves deep into the reasons behind New Zealand’s freshwater pollution problems, which environmental campaigners say are exacerbated by similar large-scale irrigation schemes in other parts of the country.

New Zealand: Polluted Paradise (Part 2) airs on THURSDAY, 7 SEPTEMBER 2017 AT 10.30 AM AND 9:30 PM

In the second part of this exclusive People & Power investigation, as the machinations over the Ruataniwha project move to a climax, the Al Jazeera team examines disturbing allegations of undue political interference in the irrigation scheme at a national level. The episode also looks into the circumstances of the central government’s highly controversial 2010 sacking of anti-irrigation scheme councillors from a regional authority in Canterbury in New Zealand’s South Island and their replacement with non-elected officials.

A short promo for New Zealand: Polluted Paradise can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dm4-dwFPOZc


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