Vote for Nature: Ecopoll

We quizzed all the major parties about their commitment to nature. So far, only the Labour, Green, Mana and United Future parties have replied. Below are their answers.

Protecting the Denniston Plateau on the West Coast of the South Island from mining, by including it in Schedule 4.

  Labour will prioritise the classification of “Stewardship” land managed by DOC so it is better protected from such mining proposals in the future. We will make automatic the closure of areas coming within the generic protected categories listed in Schedule 4 and also make it clear that land may be added to Schedule 4 by Order in Council, but may not be taken out of the Schedule by that means.

 We are absolutely opposed to the open cast mining proposal for the Denniston Plateau and have been campaigning actively against it. Mining will destroy the unique landscape and flora and fauna that inhabit the immediate area and the coal that is removed will contribute further to climate change. New coal mines are not an option if we want to do our bit to prevent climate chaos.

The Māori Party is committed to supporting the protection of the Denniston Plateau and all the species of native flora and fauna which dwell within and around it. Most importantly, we want to see any activities undertaken in this area done so in accordance with the views, preferences and wishes of local iwi and hapū in accordance with the principles of partnership and protection under the Treaty of Waitangi.

MANA supports Ngāti Waewae in its opposition to mining areas such as the Denniston Plateaux which are home to  spotted kiwi and other taonga in the area.

We do not currently have a policy position on this and would need to know a lot more about the specifics of the proposal before doing so.

Protecting the Mokihinui River catchment on the West Coast of the South Island from damming, by extending the boundaries of Kahurangi National Park to include it.

 Labour will ask the New Zealand Conservation Authority to formally investigate adding the Mokihinui river area to Kahurangi National Park. Labour will in the meantime direct Meridian Energy not to proceed with its hydro dam proposal and/or decline to make the area available to Meridian Energy.

We fully support the campaign to save the Mokihinui and have been campaigning with Forest and Bird and others on the issue. We support it being included in the Kahurangi National park. Our electricity needs can be met by efficiency measures and truly renewable generation. Other electricity projects are already consented and underway on the West Coast that have the capacity meet the regions power needs.

The Māori Party is committed to supporting the local iwi and hapū to have a predominant role in deciding the future of the Mokihinui River as it affects  Māori and the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.   We would be guided by our discussions with Te Runanga o Ngati Waewae and strategies they propose to offset the impact of the project on the mauri (lifeforce) of the river.

MANA supports catchment management planning and Ngati Waewae who have kaitiakitanga obligations in this area.  We question the need for yet another dam in the South Island.  Issues of energy production and use will not be resolved by extending boundaries but by educating the public on how to use energy we already produce more efficiently. 

 UnitedFuture is opposed to the damming of the Mokihinui and/or any other remaining ‘wild river’ in NZ

[optional ] Establishing effective national strategies to prevent any further degradation of our rivers and lakes and restore their quality, by

 Labour will urgently strengthen the NPS on Freshwater Management 2011 in line with the draft NPS proposed by the board of inquiry. Labour will rigorously uphold the key principle of the draft freshwater management NPS that economic activity cannot proceed if it comes at the continued cost of the quality of ground and surface water quality. Labour will adopt and implement national water quality standards, with targets for them to be met by. 

One of our three priorities this election is our rivers and lakes. We want to see meaningful standards for fresh water quality, a fair charge on water taken for irrigation and more support for river rehabilitation opportunities. The failure of this and previous governments to act while there has been a massive increase in agriculture intensity has resulted in massive environmental destruction that could have been avoided.

The Māori Party want to halt any further degradation of our freshwater resource with water quality monitoring and evaluation responsibility taken up and executed by local iwi. Those local iwi and hapū must be empowered to develop new water improvement innovations. As part of that, local iwi will be involved in governance, management and decision-making within their rohe. To this end we support the recommendations in the National Policy Statement on Freshwater.

UnitedFuture will:
•    Promote the principle that all New Zealanders have a common right to access unpolluted freshwater and waterways for recreational use.
•    Implement a National Environmental Standard (NES) for the quality of New Zealand’s freshwater lakes and waterways;
•    Ensure that a program to improve water quality is developed and implemented through consultation with all stakeholders.

(a)    Reducing the amount of nutrient pollution entering rivers and lakes

 New Zealand’s dependence on urea and phosphorus-based fertilisers needs to be reduced.  Farmers need to be encouraged to look to alternatives. Labour will encourage research to establish optimum fertiliser application rates and production systems that avoid excessive run-off.  Labour will support regional councils in setting clear and enforceable limits on nutrient limit and minimum flow regimes on major waterways.

 We would introduce:

•    A strong National Policy Statement for Freshwater Quality
•    A minimum standard for water quality that is consistent across the country
•    A minimum standard for flows and levels in our waterways
•    A minimum standard for intensive agriculture
•    A moratorium in intensification in sensitive catchments
•    Smart Urban Design for healthy Waterways

We would like to see greater emphasis on carbon credit allocation through environmental protection activities like riparian planting next to waterways and afforestation on our hilly, back country farms.

MANA will work to require councils to ban point source discharges of human waste water and stormwater into waterways by 2020.  Discharges into waterways need to meet food gathering standards to make them suitable for discharge to forests and lands.  

MANA will work to introduce greater regulations to farming practices to reduce environmental damage and improve water quality, including introducing stock number limits by region.

 UnitedFuture will hold agriculture accountable for any negative impacts on freshwater quality arising from agricultural activity. We believe what is needed is a true ‘polluter-pays’ system in which agriculture, or any polluter for that matter, directly pays for the cost of cleaning up our waterways. It is also our policy to promote the planting of native trees and bush along or close by all inland waterways where practical, in order to limit soil erosion, reduce ... [CUT – ANSWER TOO LONG]

(b)    Managing freshwater take, particularly for commercial use.

 Labour will engage with representatives across all aspects of farming to develop water allocation models on the basis of best use rather than “first-come-first-served‟, in order to ensure we encourage and maintain a mix of farming and land uses across regions. Labour will implement a resource rental mechanism and seek expert advice on its design parameters. The revenue from any such rental will be used to improve New Zealand’s water management systems for the future.

    We would promote the efficient use of irrigation water by putting a price on its use. Big irrigators earning big money by using a public resource have little incentive to use the water efficiently. This money would be used to rehabilitate our waterways by investment in riparian planting, and improvements in sewage systems. In some catchments a moratorium on new takes would be a good first step.

We support levels of freshwater take managed more intensively and by local iwi in their role as kaitiaki over water resource.

    All people must have access to freshwater.  Tangata whenua retain rights to use and regulate water resources on their own lands for domestic purposes.   MANA will work to ensure that freshwater takes for irrigation purposes are limited to 2 years and that they will be reviewed on a biennual basis

    Water conservation orders, in their current form, are too easily ignored. UnitedFuture wants the scope of water conservation orders reinforced by regulatory intervention such as the establishment of a National Environmental Standard for both flow and water quality. Any regulatory intervention needs to stand the test of time by placing permanent restrictions on environmentally unsustainable use of water from our rivers and lakes.

We wish to see minimum flows set above current levels to preserve ... [CUT – ANSWER TOO LONG]

[optional] Keeping the Mackenzie brown, by

 Labour’s policy of stopping tenure review will provide an opportunity for forward thinking on the future of the basin. Labour wants to see the current collaborative community and stakeholder process continue in the Mackenzie basin. However, we will make clear that this is a unique part of New Zealand – and that there are some fundamental conservation principles to be included in any plan. We will protect the Mackenzie basin from inappropriate water use and irrigation.

 There are two futures for the Mackenzie Country. One in which it retains its breath taking stark beauty, the other is privatisation and loss of biodiversity and pollution of the Waitaki river system. We favour the first, and have actively supported the Forest and Bird campaign on this front.

The Māori Party is in support of keeping the McKenzie basin in untouched, pristine condition, as well as the surrounding natural environment. We want to keep these areas of natural beauty free from pollution for the benefit of our future generations and  we would expect that mana whenua will be actively consulted about the long term plan for the Mackenzie protection strategy.

(a) Establishing a Mackenzie Basin dryland park

 In the Mackenzie basin, to the east of Lake Pukaki, there is scope for the creation of a low-altitude drylands park.  Labour will explore the creation of a drylands conservation park in the Mackenzie Basin.

Last year we called for a Waitangi day gift to our nation– a Mackenzie Basin Dryland Park. This would safeguard this iconic region which is not suitable for intensive agriculture.

The Māori Party supports this proposal with the condition that the park is managed in partnership with local iwi and specifically Ngai Tahu.

 No policy

   We support Forest and Bird’s proposal to create a drylands park.

(b)    Halting irrigation expansion in the Mackenzie area.

 We will protect the Mackenzie basin from inappropriate water use and irrigation. While this Government is currently fast-tracking its $400m, taxpayer-funded irrigation programme, Labour believes no consents for future projects should be granted unless it can be proven the additional water will not end up adding to the pollution problem in rivers, lakes and streams.

Part of our plan to rescue our waterways is a moratorium on intensification in sensitive areas. The Mackenzie Basin is a prime candidate for a moratorium. Addressing Tenure Review will also need to be part of the solution for the Mackenzie country which hasn’t already been through Tenure Review process.

We support a limit to irrigation expansion in this area in order to maintain levels, course and abundance  of wildlife in surrounding rivers, lakes and streams.

No policy

 United Future does not believe the Mackenzie Basin is an environmentally sustainable region for high-intensity dairy farming that would rely heavily on irrigation.

[optional] Protecting biodiversity and preventing extinctions, by

 Labour aims that in a decade from now, New Zealand’s wildlife population will be stabilised and increasing, with species coming off the endangered list regularly. The New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy (NZBS) for halting the decline of our indigenous biodiversity has been in place since 2001. But we must constantly refine our efforts to ensure they are focused in the right places. This includes protecting and restoring threatened habitats such as wetlands.

  The law needs amended to require the Minister to develop recovery plans for our threatened species (including protection of critical habitat), as other countries do, instead of the weak and passive protection currently in the law. We favour abandoning the commercialisation of the public conservation estate, ramping up investment in conservation to 1% of the Government’s budget, to properly protect this unique natural biodiversity that we love for its own sake, and for our kids.

The Waitangi Tribunal’s WAI 262 report on indigenous Flora and Fauna states that every New Zealander has a right to a relationship with the environment and the species that dwell within, as a matter of national importance. We agree that the first point of human engagement with these species is to ensure its good health and survival, because without it, there is no relationship and New Zealand loses a great deal in terms of economic . [CUT – ANSWER TOO LONG]

MANA will work to ensure that tangata whenua as Indigenous Peoples be recognised as part of the biodiversity of Aotearoa and resourced to protect other taonga within their iwi rohe.  MANA will work to require government to place the environment before economic gain.  At present, for example, commercial fisheries and energy projects such as wave and wind turbines currently take precedence over maui dolphins, birds, bats and other endangered  species

(a)  Implementing a strong National Policy Statement on Biodiversity

 Labour will make any necessary changes to the NPS on Biodiversity to make it truly effective and to align it with the New Zealand Nature Protection Strategy. National has drafted a National Policy Statement (NPS) on Biodiversity under the Resource Management Act 1991, but has not yet gazetted it. National’s NPS is likely to be inadequate in terms of biodiversity protection required on private land, especially in the face of intensifying agriculture.

While the proposed NPS addresses the need to stop the decline in biodiversity – that has accelerated due to agricultural intensification – it is not a step forward. We would like to see:
•    Comprehensive criteria for assessing significance;
•    More addressing the critical state of our freshwater; Measures to tackle the negative impacts of weeds and pests.
We must do better than withdrawing to sanctuaries. We need to aim to maintain and restore biodiversity!

Any National Policy Statement needs to address firstly the decline in our native species through direct human action. Secondly and an issue which is just as important to the Māori Party is to ensure that the management of our species is one that is Treaty compliant, based on partnership and shared rights to decision-making.

MANA will work to ensure that tangata whenua of each area are involved in planning policies and implementing strategies based on indigenous knowledge

In theory, yes we would support this although that depends on the content of the statement

(b)    Requiring recovery plans for all threatened species

 Labour aims that in 10 years’ time New Zealand’s wildlife population will be stabilised and increasing with species coming off the endangered list regularly. The New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy (NZBS) for halting the decline of our indigenous biodiversity includes protecting and restoring threatened habitats such as wetlands. Labour will review the success or otherwise of the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy in its first ten years and action the results of the review.

We have announced our intention to introduce legislation to achieve this, and have developed a Bill, in conjunction with academics and the conservation community, which is ready to be introduced. Other countries (such as the United States and Australia) have translated their international commitment to maintaining biodiversity into domestic legislation, and our country should too.

The Māori Party fully supports a proposed recovery plan for threatened species, so long as the interests of local Māori are considered on an equal basis to the interests of everyone else and any recovery plan is developed with a tikanga Māori approach in consideration.

MANA will work to ensure that any translocations of species that are threatened by activities such as wind turbines, occur within the same hapū rohe. 

   In theory, yes

(c)Resourcing more pest control as recommended by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

 Labour will continue to resource weed and integrated pest control on public conservation land to protect threatened species, ecosystems and significant landscapes. Labour will support the use of aerial 1080 as an effective tool for landscape-scale pest control (especially of possums, rats and stoats), while new and improved alternative tools are developed.


More pest control is a green solution that addresses climate change, conservation and the economy. We have managed to find some common ground with the current government in allocating funding to trialling new resetting traps which, if successful, will allow funding to go further and replace aerial 1080 in some front country areas. Pest control also increases the capacity of our native bush to act as a carbon sink, and to create green jobs.

The Māori Party supports a more intensive and urgent approach to pest control which minimises the risk of pollution to our freshwater as a result. We are very concerned when we see our ancestral landmarks dumped with poison pellets and sprays. We would like to investigate the possibility of trapping operations which will keep poisons out of our rivers, lakes and streams and would provide employment and business opportunities for our local people.

MANA supports resourcing communities to carry out pest control that is not reliant on 1080 and other poisons. 

  We believe more pest control is appropriate but are strongly opposed to the use of 1080 poison, particularly when applied aerially. We are concerned at the lack of funding for research into alternatives to the aerial application of poisons and want to see more resources directed to this purpose.

[optional] Protecting the marine environment, by

 Ten years from now, Labour wants New Zealand will be known for its world-leading approach to marine conservation, with a network of marine protected areas to support the rejuvenation of our marine life for all New Zealanders to enjoy; our trading partners will continue to buy our seafood because they know they are buying a sustainable, quality product.

We support: Creation of a network of marine reserves of a viable area, representing all marine eco-system types within our Exclusive Economic Zone; Amending the National Parks Act to facilitate the protection of marine areas adjacent to national parks; Moves to minimise fishing by-catch by setting sustainable limits and closing fisheries after they are reached; Providing more resources to marine biosecurity.

Protecting our marine environment is of utmost importance to Māori, albeit the challenges we face are likely to be fraught with tough decisions. Māori have been practising sustainability for the marine environment for centuries, but practices and protocols have been sidelined in favour of government legislation and policy. The Māori Party wants to restore and reform the relationship between Māori and the Crown in terms of protection of the marine environment and management of the [CUT – ANSWER TOO LONG]

MANA will work to ban the point source discharges from land based activities into the rivers and ocean e.g. human waste, discharges from land and ships, and stormwater. 

UnitedFuture believes that no-take marine reserves should only comprise one component of a graduated comprehensive plan to protect and ensure the sustainability of the entire marine environment. In addition, the process for deciding where to establish no-take marine reserves should be more transparent and should ensure that the views of all relevant stakeholders – including recreational fishers – are taken into. We need to abandon the percentage approach to marine reserves and other protected areas as it ... [CUT – ANSWER TOO LONG]

(a)    Protecting one-third of our oceans in no-take marine reserves

 In our last term, we initiated a record number of Marine Reserves. Labour will implement a network of marine reserves and other protected areas for the protection of marine biodiversity with the aim of having 30 percent of our marine environment in some form of protection by 2020.

Yes. It is disappointing that despite having a goal (in Biodiversity Strategy 2000) of 10% of NZ’s marine environment protected by 2010; successive governments have failed to make any significant progress. Only 0.41% of our waters are protected in marine reserves. The Minister has turned down applications like those for Akaroa Harbour and didn’t go far enough protecting the waters of the South island’s West Coast.

The Māori Party could only support this proposal if it had been consulted on and negotiated with the appropriate iwi who hold mana moana over the ocean areas in consideration.

The tangata whenua of each rohe need to be consulted on this.  Rahui may be preferred as a protection mechanism

UnitedFuture’s policy is to establish a graduated comprehensive system of marine protection for the entire marine environment whereby no-take marine reserves are one of several available categories of protection (the category that affords the maximum level of restrictions)

(b)    Establishing a Kermadec ocean sanctuary

 The Kermadec Islands provide the opportunity for a marine reserve of ecosystem-scale, which would be one of the few on the planet.    Labour will create a world sanctuary area in the EEZ around the Kermadec Islands by giving this area marine reserve status. 

  Yes. We fully support moves to create a Kermadec ocean sanctuary. If the Government fails to act we have plans for a member’s bill to address this.

The Kermadec trench is unique in that it is home to thousands of species of seabirds, sea flora and fish and sea mammal species. We would like to see New Zealand play a greater role in protecting this area but not to the detriment of island nations lying to the north. We would like to play a co-operative role to protecting this area based on mutual values and gains of all nations in the South Pacific.

No Policy

  We do not have a specific policy for this proposal

(c)    Implementing legislation for the Exclusive Economic Zone that is no less robust than the Resource Management Act.

  This is a fundamental weakness of the EEZ Bill, which is why Labour voted against it. Labour began the process, but in the three years it took National to introduce the Bill there has been no oversight of the safety of offshore drilling and no requirement for consultation with affected communities. Labour says there should be no deep-sea drilling until we know there are safeguards in place that can absolutely be relied upon. 

  We support the recent moves by the government to address the lack of legislation giving environmental protection to our EEZ. We don’t feel that their recent proposals go far enough and we will continue to push for stronger protection for a part of New Zealand that many of us never get the opportunity to see, but that holds incredible wealth of natural resources that are under threat from continued exploitation.

In the wake of the Rena disaster and looking at the devastating effects of the oil on our sea, our fishing resource and wildlife, it is clear to the Māori Party that we need legislation which is more robust and gives us a stringent environmental risk criteria. We supported the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Bill on the basis that it would clearly set out the Crown’s responsibility under the Treaty [CUT – ANSWER TOO LONG]

MANA fully supports this stand.  This bill will open the EEZ to overexploitation from foreign corporations to the detriment of the marine environment

UnitedFuture is supportive of the provisions within the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Bill, which establishes an environmental protection system beyone just the 12-mile limit.

Committing to no more dams on wild or braided rivers.

 New Zealand cannot continue damming its remaining wild and scenic rivers. Alternative means of renewable electricity generation are now available. Labour will strengthen the National Policy Statement for Renewable Electricity Generation by encouraging renewable generation with low environmental impacts, with a particular view to protecting our remaining wild and scenic rivers. Labour will restore the primacy of water conservation orders in Canterbury and investigate the strengthening and expansion of this protection mechanism nationally.

  We have wealth of renewable energy opportunities and there is no need for us to destroy our few remaining wild rivers. Our policy is to consider small scale hydro where it can be built without significant damage to ecology or public amenity. No more hydro dams on braided rivers - we are already too vulnerable to dry winters.

The Māori Party understands the importance of finding innovative and sustainable ways to produce electricity. We understand our people when they say that the mauri of our rivers is undermined by humans who interfere with the natural course and flow by damming it for electricity production. We support the investment in alternative sustainable ways to produce electricity through wind, solar and geothermal sources. New Zealand has an abundance of all of these natural phenomena, we are crazy not to start investing heavily in it right now.

MANA fully supports this stand also.  There are alternative sources of energy, such as solar.  There is no need for the damming of more rivers.

: Agree. UnitedFuture has opposed proposals for damming both the Mohikinui and Hurunui rivers in recent years.

Recognising the Department of Conservation’s role in protecting much of our natural heritage and managing one-third of New Zealand, by

(a)    Reversing staff and funding cuts

 DOC is our frontline conservation agency. Labour will ensure that the Department is resourced appropriately. We are committed to DOC being able to carry out all of its public service roles effectively. Labour will ensure that DOC plays a leading role in maintaining New Zealand’s biodiversity and an independent statutory role in advocating for the conservation of natural and historic resources. This role has been weakened under National.

Yes. All DoC functions are ‘frontline’. DoC play a vital role in maintaining our clean green brand and this has been undermined by cutting funding and jobs from an already underfunded department. Furthermore DoC needs to be funded, staffed and allowed to fulfil its vital advocacy role. The role of advocating for good conservation outcomes shouldn’t be left to NGOs like Forest and Bird.

The Māori Party supports appropriate and adequate funding and provision of staff for the Department of Conservation.     We also support the return of the kaitiaki role from the Department back to iwi.

MANA supports the need for government to recognise, resource, and cooperate with tangata whenua in protecting te taiao.   

UnitedFuture would restructure the department. See below.

(b)    Properly funding the department.

 Some of the core functions of the Department are threatened with the funding and staff cuts of the National Government.  Examples of this are the scientists who work on endangered species regimes and the technical advisors on mining applications. The Department has also reduced its advocacy function.  These core functions must be maintained. 

If we are serious about protecting our treasured places then we need to do more than returning DoC funding to pre-2008 levels. This is important given the impact that climate change will have on species especially in ecosystems that are isolated and fractured. Our policy is to increase DoC’s funding, with a 6 year programme to ramp funding up to 1% of Government spending - more than double current funding.

As above.

As above.

UnitedFuture believes that the Department of Conservation should be responsive to the interests of all stakeholders when administering the conservation estate – including outdoor recreation groups, environmental organisations, the business sector, and individual New Zealanders in general.

UnitedFuture would restructure the Department of Conservation into at least two semi-autonomous divisions – one division responsible for the “conservation” aspects such as scientific research, pest control, and the other division responsible for the “recreation” aspects such as land and ... [CUT – ANSWER TOO LONG]

Upholding existing conservation laws and values, which require the management of public conservation lands for the primary purpose of conservation, and recognition of their intrinsic worth.

 Labour led the world in 1987 by establishing the Department of Conservation (DOC) as an agency dedicated to the protection of our natural environment and we hold the same values today. Our natural environment is central to New Zealand’s sense of identity, and our conservation estate is a major contributor to the economy. It provides essential and valuable ecosystem services such as clean water, flood and erosion control, as well as opportunities for healthy recreation.

- We were proud to work alongside the wider environmental NGO community to protect our most precious conservation land from being mined. We believe that the current Government’s driving a commercial agenda through DoC is, in fact, contrary to the hierarchy of priorities established in the Act. Conservation should come first, then recreation, and finally commercial use, provided that it doesn’t compromise conservation or recreation.

The Māori Party is very concerned to ensure that the intrinsic value of our conservation estate is understood and recognised by the Crown. This is with particular regard to the unique relationship that Māori have with the conservation estate and taonga. We would like to see a legislative framework which is Treaty-compliant and is based on principles of partnership and shared decision-making with local kaitiaki.

MANA supports this stand.

: Broadly agree

Reviewing the status of public conservation land in the stewardship category, to ensure that land with high conservation values has the right level of protection.

 Some of the land inherited by DOC in 1987 had not been adequately defined and classified in law, so as a holding position it became ‘stewardship land’. There has still been no systematic classification of stewardship land into conservation land categories, or identification as land that does not warrant DOC administration. The ‘limbo’ status of stewardship land can leave it vulnerable to hydro or mining development. Labour will begin a systematic classification of this land.

This was the original intent with stewardship land, and should now finally occur.  Too often short term economic gains trump the intrinsic worth of our most precious conservation estate. Care must be taken however to ensure positive conservation outcomes and that the process is not subverted to allow commercial access to high value conservation land.

The Māori Party supports this proposal, with the condition that ‘the right level of protection’ has taken into consideration tikanga Māori aspects of conservation management and is in consultation with mana whenua. 

MANA supports this stand – and the need for government to recognise, resource, and cooperate with tangata whenua in protecting te taiao.   

Broadly agree

[optional] Developing a sustainable energy strategy, by

 Labour’s energy and climate change policies overlap in the dual need to improve energy use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The challenge is to transition toward a fully sustainable energy system that weans us off energy sources such as imported oil.  We aim for 90% of our electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2025; halving our per capita transport emissions by 2040 and carbon neutrality in the whole energy sector by 2040.

We support an energy strategy that evaluates energy generation (and conservation) alternatives, selecting only those that best reflect the public interest and environmental goals, rather than the companies’ profits! It requires measurable targets across the life of the strategy, providing a pathway towards its aspirational goals. In addition we must reinstate a separate Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy which clearly identifies energy saving opportunities and sets targets, goals and deadlines for implementation of these measures.

The Government must invest in energy infrastructure and increase renewables in preparation for a world which is less reliant on oil. We need to increase grid efficiency and gradually reduce our energy use, upgrade our water and sewerage systems and our rail system. All of this will generate much needed employment and put New Zealand on the world stage in terms of a forward-looking, revolutionary environmentally friendly lifestyle.

MANA is currently developing a comprehensive sustainable energy strategy.  We oppose oil exploration and instead promote investment in the development and establishment of widespread, small-scale, sustainable energy generation by households and communities, such as solar, wind, and micro-hydro.  Imported wind and ocean turbines are not a sustainable alternative.   We support investment in a national biocrop/biodiesel initiative from lands not suitable for food crops or farming, including Māori-owned lands, to create energy independence.

UnitedFuture will:
•    Invest in small-scale localised electricity generation projects. Reducing our reliance and burden on the National transmission grid.
•    upgrade the national grid to ensure security of supply
•    convert Transpower NZ Ltd to a public utility with the sole objective of transporting power through the National Grid at the lowest possible long-term cost to the consumer
•    make it easier and cheaper for micro-generators to connect directly to local electricity networks
•    Encourage the development of NZ owned and operated ... [CUT – ANSWER TOO LONG]

(a)    Stopping all new coal and lignite mines

 As the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has pointed out, there are no easy options to deal with the huge emissions created by processing lignite; either hundreds of millions of dollars in potential taxpayer subsidies are created, an impossible number of trees have to be planted, or unproven carbon sequestration has to be risked. Labour will direct Solid Energy not to proceed with its liquid fuels lignite mining proposal.

Green Party policy is to stop all new coal mines, but allow the existing mines to be mined out. This would allow a transition for workers and communities that depend on mining and also for our economy to transition away from burning coal. We also have to ensure that coal is not simply imported to account for what would have otherwise been mined. There is no place at all for Solid Energy’s lignite ambitions.

The Māori Party supports the Crown Minerals (Effective and Meaningful Engagement with Iwi, Hapū and Whānau) Amendment Bill to ensure full consultation and negotiation with mana whenua/mana Moana before any mining contracts are signed.    The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment stated that New Zealand has no options to deal with the alarming level of emissions created by lignite and I tend to agree. We just do not have the economic base or the population capacity to sustain such an intensive plan to sink the amount of carbon that a dangerous initiative like this would produce. The Māori Party will not be supporting any Lignite mining project in this country.

Policy to come

  No, we approach these issues on a case-by-case basis. A blanket edict such as this does not reflect the reality or the complex nature of the industry or the various environmental, economic and social considerations that needed to be taken into account.

(b)    Revising the fossil fuel-focused New Zealand Energy Strategy.

 We would revise the National Policy Statement under the RMA on renewable energy. The National Government undermined the effectiveness of this by removing the reference to 90 percent renewable electricity by 2025. Re-inserting that target gives statutory effect to that ambition.

We need to begin a transition away from our addiction to fossil fuels. The longer we try and hold on the higher the cost of that transition will be. This is not restricted to the Energy Strategy but must be considered in other areas of government as well, especially in our transportation planning.

We will invest in new strategies to address our reliance on fossil fuels, to be developed in consultation and partnership with local iwi. From there we want to establish a cross-party inquiry which investigates our oil dependency going forward.

As above, policy to come

UnitedFuture believes every effort should be made to encourage exploration and development of New Zealand's potential oil and gas reserves within strict environmental standards.

Requiring science-based global and national greenhouse gas emissions cuts.

 National amended Labour’s 2008 ETS, increasing the taxpayers’ bill for New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions and letting polluters off the hook. These amendments included putting a price cap on carbon, halving the emissions units that must be bought or surrendered, and deferring the inclusion of agriculture. Labour will introduce agriculture to the ETS in 2013, as we originally planned.

We need to drastically reduce our emissions. The faster we move the less total emissions we emit and the better off we will be. Our economy will have to adapt to the climate instability we have already locked in. We need to move fast to take advantages of the opportunities that are on offer especially in the green/clean tech sector. The faster we move the better it will be for our planet and the economy.

The Māori Party is in support of science-based innovations to tackle emissions. In order to achieve this we need more scientists at university and we need more funding in the Research and Development sector to support these people to develop new innovations.     We want to establish a priority investment fund for Māori Research and Development. We will promote collaboration between Māori entrepreneurs, scientists and innovators to improve opportunities, jobs and incomes.

There is a need to also recognise the contribution and solutions generated by and from mātauranga Māori. 

UnitedFuture supports a CO2 emissions trading mechanism to provide economic incentives to reduce greenhouse gases and boost carbon capture. We are comfortable with the current ETS and believe it provides a fair balance between restricting the cost to consumers and our environmental responsibilities.

Implementing domestic policies that support native reforestation and canopy protection, for carbon storage and other conservation benefits.

 Effective pest control not only protects biodiversity, but prevents the collapse of forest canopy and the resulting erosion of hillsides.  Carbon stores are also protected, and this enhances New Zealand’s ability to respond to global carbon accounting.  Labour will resource weed and integrated pest control on public conservation land to protect threatened species, ecosystems and significant landscapes.

  More pest control, particularly if ground based, on the conservation estate would mean more jobs, increase in carbon storage as well as the obvious conservation benefits. These are the win win solutions that we will work, with whatever government is in power, to try and achieve. We also support reviewing and increasing incentives to protect, and expand indigenous forest on private land, such as underwriting the carbon price and thus removing the uncertainty facing foresters.

The Māori Party supports this proposal, for the above benefits but also to keep alive tikanga Māori and traditional knowledge and practices.

MANA supports this stand, in collaboration with the tangata whenua of relevant rohe.

Carbon storage should not be treated as the fundamental benefit of reforestation in NZ; it is very much a secondary consideration. Reforestation and forest protection have far greater conservation benefits in other areas such as biodiversity protection and providing New Zealanders with wonderful recreational opportunities.

Rebuilding a sustainable Christchurch that brings nature back to the city.

 Labour believes that Cantabrians should drive the recovery and rebuilding process.  Labour will ensure the recovery process enables local communities to make choices that build safer, more sustainable communities.  Out of the devastation in Canterbury, there is an opportunity to rebuild a safe and sustainable city.

  We need to rebuild Christchurch in a way that meets four overarching principles – resilience, sustainability, harmony and beauty. To make certain that the cost is shared equitably we propose a small temporary earthquake levy which would raise $5.4 billion over five years. Kennedy Graham has run a series of public meetings from which he has developed 26 recommendations (ranging from updating the building code to allocating land for green space) which are available from

We are in full support of Ngai Tahu’s plan for the recovery and rebuild of Christchurch. Most importantly, we want to see active involvement of local iwi in the rebuild, particularly in regard to protecting, enhancing and restoring sites of significance. We want to assist Ngai Tahu to build their plans to restore the mana, mauri and quality of the rivers, lakes and streams with improved stormwater and wastewater treatment. We want to see traditional [CUT – ANSWER TOO LONG]

Ngai Tahu need to be central in these discussions.

Broadly agree within practical parameters.

Recognising that Nature has a place in its own right.

 Conservation is the preservation of New Zealand’s unique environment, as a good thing in and of itself.  It is also essential to New Zealand’s identity, the basis of our clean green image, and the foundation of the economy.  Public conservation land provides essential and valuable ecosystem service s such as clean water, flood and erosion control and carbon sequestration – as well as opportunities for healthy recreation.

Conservation to us is more than just setting aside and protecting our most valuable ecosystems. It is about bringing nature into our cities, and back yards. Ensuring we all – and future generations - can enjoy and appreciate nature, will mean that there is more support to ensure that resources are allocated to protect it. The economy must serve the environment – not the other way around!

Nature certainly has a place in its own right, particularly in a country like New Zealand where most of our plan tand animal species are endemic and they have lost around 70% of the habitat it once thrived in before humans arrived. This really emphasises the sense of urgency that these plans must be implemented. The Māori Party is in support of increasing funding to get robust plans in place to protect the future of our natural environment, our special cultural connections with the environment and the massive economic potential which is guaranteed by its presence and continued long term protection.

MANA supports this stand, and also asserts that people are a part of nature – not separate from it.

UnitedFuture does not advocate an open-slather approach to environmental management. The environment is our basic life support system and must remain in good health. We understand that if people want to use the environment for outdoor recreation, economic development, or to simply admire and appreciate it, then it must be used in ways that do not cause permanent widespread damage or compromise the needs of future generations to meet their own needs – i.e. in ways ... [CUT – ANSWER TOO LONG]

Recognising that to protect both our economy and our environment, 100% pure must be more than a slogan for New Zealand.

 New Zealand’s natural heritage is unique. Sometimes we fail to recognise this fact, and sometimes we get pressured by these spurious arguments that mining our national parks, or further polluting our rivers with more cows, will somehow bring us economic salvation. It won’t. Economic growth must be based on sustainable practices, and this represents an opportunity, not a hindrance. We have the science, we understand the issues. Let’s make it happen.

  The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment; we can’t balance their needs. We need to take advantage of our clean green image to corner a share of the clean tech boom. Our rivers and waterways are under siege and we need to address this. We have a package of solutions to make 100% pure a reality. Find out more at

We understand and agree with this proclamation. We want New Zealand to not only be 100% pure in terms of what we see around us, but also in our approach to sustainable environmental management which must be culturally and socially inclusive, economically sensible and cost efficient for all.

MANA supports this call.

Broadly agree with this premise

Halting biodiversity decline.

 Humans have wiped out a third of all native plant, bird and animal species since we arrived; 90 percent of wetlands have gone many surviving ecosystems are now threatened. This is the generation that must decide to reverse this decline - that the extinction of the Nth Island Kiwi will not be our legacy - and to implement that, we need a Labour-led Government that has the courage and support to make the tough decisions.

We have locked in Climate Change with historic emissions which will have serious impacts on biodiversity, and land use changes. Agricultural intensification and dairy conversions are driving habitat destruction. We need to take real and urgent action to halt these trends and increase funding to DoC to enable it to cope with these challenges. A charge on water take for irrigation used to fund riparian planting will help address our severely stressed freshwater ecosystems.

We consider the most pressing issues facing the survival of our native species today are deforestation for agriculture and industry and controlling animal pests. The Māori Party supports a co-ordinated approach which gives due consideration to cultural values and which might provide economic benefits for our people.

MANA supports putting the environment before money from exploitative industries, growth and development. 

Although we are supportive of most current pest control methods, UnitedFuture is opposed to the use of 1080. We will provide additional funding for 1080-free pest control measures that target the most noxious and destructive pests, e.g. possums, rats, and mustelids etc once thorough consultation has taken place with relevant local community and recreational groups.

Achieving species recovery in the wild.

 Dedicated sanctuaries continue to provide the most effective incubators for rejuvenating populations of threated native birds and other wildlife.  Labour will promote predator-free island sanctuaries and be vigilant in protecting them from re-infestation.  We will promote ‘mainland islands’ with a view to eradication or intensive control of predators on a landscape-scale and will examine the option of turning large peninsula areas into mainland islands.

  This needs to be the long term goal. Species recovery in the wild ensures that conservation spend doesn’t just benefit target species but the relevant ecosystem. Following the success of offshore island sanctuaries we support more funding towards new and larger “mainland islands” for intensive pest management in addition to ex-situ species conservation. We also support more work to protect a network of ecologically representative areas.

We would like to review policies currently in place for species recovery. We understand that no amount of funding will bring the number of some of our most endangered species back to acceptable levels, so we would like to focus our energy on supporting tikanga Maori principles for protecting  the environment they inhabit so that we can manage a steady decrease in the need for funding to recover endangered species. 

MANA supports a focus on protecting and regenerating habitats and having as little human interference with species as possible

As above

Promoting and supporting science-led environment and conservation policy. 

 Science should underpin our efforts in saving threatened species, biological control of pests and weeds, smarter use of fertilisers or reducing carbon emissions; yet our scientists are not being used to their full potential and CRIs must still operate on a commercial basis. Labour’s plan to bring agriculture into the ETS by 2013, and to use the revenue generated to provide R&D tax breaks, is an example of our forward thinking in this area.

We support science- led environmental and conservation policy as well as taking a precautionary approach where there is no data. We are concerned that funding and job losses at DoC, and focus of research funding on commercial purposes, will see important conservation science under increased pressure.

We are interested in investing in alternative policies for sustainability, primarily which involve a holistic, tikanga Māori to balancing economic gain with environmental protection. We want to transfer governance and on-the-ground decision making authority back to local iwi as kaitiaki and fund their organisations to establish assessments and advise local businesses on tikanga Māori approaches.

Mātauranga Māori needs to be recognised as legitimate, especially here in Aotearoa.

  Broadly agree

Making sustainability the number one priority for New Zealand.

 Building a sustainable nation requires smart, active government working with key stakeholders across the economy and society.  We can’t leave it to the market. Now the quest for sustainability has taken on a new urgency because of the scale of environmental degradation we face, combined with the pressure from our trading partners. The future economic costs of doing nothing are dire. Labour has the bottle to make these tough decisions, National doesn’t.

We need to step up and live up to our 100% pure image. This does mean making real sustainability a priority and taking into account environmental, social and cultural impacts –not just economic – when making policy decisions. We believe this should be achieved through a mix of measures and regulation where that will work best, and market mechanisms where that will work.

For us, the most important priority is our people, he tangata, he tangata, he tangata. We want to enable everyone to look after themselves, to be educated and to earn good money. That way we can all be motivated to want to look after the beautiful home we have.

Mana supports the development of an alternative economic policy that is not focused on GDP growth.

Providing New Zealanders with a high quality of life, through fairness and choice is our number one priority. The sustainable use of our resources and vigilant environmental management is a key aspect of this.

[optional] Transitioning from a growth-based to a green economy, by

 Labour believes we now have the opportunity to merge our science, our can-do attitude, our “100 percent pure” image and come up with some truly innovative solutions that will put agriculture on a sustainable footing. If we don’t take this bold approach, we will be left behind. Labour sees the green economy as an opportunity to think and act smarter. We have the knowledge, if only National had the courage.

We would:
•    Measure more than just GDP. We need better measures of success
•    Invest in Green Tech creating 100,000 new jobs
•    invest in Home insulation, energy efficiency, green jobs and better health and, therefore, education outcomes for our children
•    Invest $1 billion Government spending on R&D, and use this to leverage more private spending on R&D
•    Keep ownership of SOEs and encourage partnerships with private sector to develop renewable energy solutions to use and export.

The Māori Party wants to balance growth with green. We want people to think differently and live differently. That will not involve trading carbon credits to deincentivise, it is not a strong enough initiative. We need a simple, clear cut tax on our biggest polluters. We must take active steps to reduce our emissions for the love of our planet and for the enjoyment our future generations will have at home, at the beach, in the bush and on the water.

(a)    Recognising the concepts of limits and ecological sustainability

 There are physical limits to the resources of the Earth, both in terms of generating materials, and absorbing waste. Any business activity that exceeds these limits is, by definition, unsustainable. Labour takes an evidence-based approach to policy making. We believe any new use of natural resources must come with the proviso that it does not cause further environmental degradation.

   As we move into a resource constrained world it is vitally important that we be more efficient in utilising our resources as well as being creative about utilising waste streams as resources. Additionally it is important that we support innovation and development to create green collar jobs with low environmental impacts.

Maintaining and protecting the integrity of the ecosystem needs to be at the centre of all decision-making.  Māori practices of kaitiakitanga have a key role to play in this and need to be better enabled to do so.  All aspects of our lives are intertwined parts of a single, integrated system that are dependent on ecological wellbeing.  We need to do much more to help our ecosystem sustain itself and support life in Aotearoa.

Agree, specifically in terms of water allocation and mineral exploration situations.

(b)    Sustainable energy sources

 Labour’s energy and climate change policies overlap in the dual need to improve energy use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The challenge is to transition toward a fully sustainable energy system that weans us off greenhouse gas emitting energy sources such as imported oil. Labour has these goals:

● 90% of electricity from renewable sources by 2025
● halving per capita transport emissions by 2040
● carbon neutrality in the whole energy sector by 2040.

New Zealand is well placed with a strong renewable base. We need to build upon this and invest in wind, geothermal and solar energy. We also need to bring in energy efficiency and conservation measures. We can leverage our state owned electricity companies to secure a small share of the growing clean tech market offsetting lost production in exploitive industries. Coal, especially lignite in Southland, cannot be part of our energy future.

MANA opposes fracking and oil exploration and instead promote investment in the development and establishment of widespread, small-scale, sustainable energy generation by households and communities, such as solar, wind, and micro-hydro.  Imported wind and ocean turbines are not a sustainable alternative.   We support investment in a national biocrop/biodiesel initiative from lands not suitable for food crops or farming, including Māori-owned lands, to create energy independence.

  This broad concept needs to be wisely applied. Damming more rivers for hydro development is on the surface of it sustainable, but we are fast running out of wild rivers and the impact on the ecology of the rivers is significant. However, exploring less fashionable options such as geo-thermal and shale gas deposits may well assist in providing security of supply at a far lower environmental cost

(c)    Sustainable farming practices.

 Labour will double the Government’s investment in the community led Sustainable Farming Fund to total $16 million per year, to be funded by reprioritisation from the Primary Growth  Partnership. Labour will discourage farming systems that have the potential to undermine our reputation for the highest standards of environmental, animal welfare and food safety in our food production.  Labour will support Biological and Organic Farming to provide alternative solutions to the impacts of intensive production systems.

  We can reduce the impact of agriculture on our environment. We would like to introduce a charge on irrigation water to encourage it to be used more efficiently. We would use the revenue generated to fund riparian planting. A major driver of increase in agricultural emissions and environmental impact has been dairy conversions and intensifications. This will continue if we do not allow agriculture to bear the cost of their emissions.

MANA supports the greater regulation of farming to reduce environmental damage and improve water quality, including introducing stock limits.   We support a ban on the growing and experimentation of GE and GM crops and stock in Aotearoa to protect the whakapapa of the food chain and indigenous plants and animals.  We support GE-free, nano technology-free, pesticide and chemical-free food production.  We support organic food production, including hua parakore foods (tikanga Māori system of food production).

  Agree, see (a)

Working alongside Maori on conservation, and giving real meaning to the concept of kaitiakitanga.

 Māori conservation is not a new concept and Māori have practiced their own forms of conservation for centuries. Labour will promote conservation on Māori land and the retention of traditional Māori biodiversity management techniques. We initiated the the Tauira Kaitiaki Taiao conservation cadetship programme as a way to build Maori capacity for conservation management and thereby support the implementation of Treaty settlements.

  The Green Party supports involving Maori and the wider community in conservation. We seek an end to indigenous habitat loss and fragmentation. Achieving this will require co-operation and dialogue between hapu, government agencies, local authorities, community organisations, and private and Maori landholders. We support increased funding to Nga Whenua Rahui to support Maori landholders conservation efforts.

The Māori Party takes its cue from the recommendations contained in the WAI 262 report on Indigenous Flora and Fauna. We are very concerned to ensure that all future legislation can actively promote and protect the obligations of Māori as kaitiaki over land, forests, the sea and all taonga and resources held in and on those realms. It can all be so easy because our current Resource Management legislation has that recognition of the Treaty [CUT – ANSWER TOO LONG]

MANA is very pleased to see this policy stand, and fully supports this call.  We support amendment of the RMA to enable the delegation of decision-making powers to hapū and iwi, and the establishment of partnerships with iwi.  We support the resourcing of hapū and iwi to develop iwi resource management plans for their territories, and enable such plans, once finalised, to bind local authority decision-making.

Broadly agree

General comment on sustainability, our relationship with nature, and why a vote for your political party this election would be a Vote for Nature: [150 words]

 Labour believes our natural environment is central to New Zealanders’ sense of identity. It also provides essential and very valuable ecosystem services such as clean water, flood and erosion control, and opportunities for healthy recreation.
And the health of our economy is also co-dependent on the preservation and enhancement of our land, air, water and indigenous wildlife, simply because all of New Zealand’s major export earners now leverage an internationally competitive premium from the country’s ‘clean green/100% pure’ sustainable branding.
So our natural heritage not only has very significant intrinsic, cultural and social value, it is also a key part of our economy that must be actively maintained and enhanced.
Labour has a proud history in conservation. In our last term we expanded the conservation estate; initiated a record number of marine reserves; was pro-active in protecting and enhancing biodiversity; actively promoted outdoor recreation and protected marine mammals.

  Our commitment to ecological wisdom, as specified in our charter, alongside our policies, our aspirations and our record means that anyone who chooses to cast a party vote for the Green Party this election can be confident that we will speak for those that can sing but not speak and for the rest of the indigenous species of Aotearoa. We will work hard to secure a richer future for New Zealand. We have been proud to stand alongside the wider environmental movement to protect our beloved high value conservation land. Under Labour we secured many wins like the Arawai Kākāriki wetland restoration project. Under National we have secured $4 milllion to pilot alternative pest control methods. Our record demonstrates that whoever is in government we will work as best as we can to advocate for better solutions for the environment and conservation in New Zealand.

The Māori Party is about restoring our rangatiratanga and providing a safe pair of hands for everyone. This not only applies to the well-being of our people but also to our precious native wildlife, our land, our mountains, our lakes, rivers and streams and our forests and our beaches and our seas. Tikanga Māori has so much to offer in terms of protecting our environment for future generations and to provide a uniquely New Zealand way to look after what we have. We here in New Zealand have an amazing opportunity to develop our own standards and lead the world in keeping our home clean, green and 100% pure. But we must begin now. The Māori Party is ready for that challenge. For we are the river. And the river is us.

Aotearoa needs to invest in widespread, small-scale, sustainable energy generation to dramatically reduce dependency on oil.  We need a fundamental rethinking of how we make the things we use and sell.  Essential to this is bio-mimicry, where production is designed to “mimic” nature to reduce or eliminate environmental damage, waste, and pollution by working with the natural biological processes of te taiao.  All aspects of our lives – employment, incomes, economic development, education, health, housing, and so on – are intertwined parts of a single, integrated system that are dependent on ecological wellbeing.  We need to do much more to help the ecosystem sustain itself and support life in Aotearoa.  MANA stands for Maori led policies on ecological matters where the focus is the protection and restoration of the mauri of every aspect of the ecosystem.

  UnitedFuture believes that all New Zealanders have a birthright to enjoy our unique and diverse landscape. Our strong outdoor heritage is central to what it means to be a Kiwi. Over successive governments we have advocated strongly for an environmental and conservation policy that protects and enhances public access to public land, promotes the cleanup of our rivers and lakes and provides New Zealanders with the best possible opportunities to enjoy an outdoor lifestyle. UnitedFuture will once again be in a position to negotiate a confidence and supply agreement with National post-election.
Conservation and environmentalism are concepts most successfully upheld through educating people as to their importance while encouraging their interaction with that environment. We maintain that the best and most practical conservationists in this country are those that partake in the recreational pursuits that the conservation estate provides, e.g. hunters, fishers, trampers, climbers, kayakers etc. UnitedFuture is committed to representing ... [CUT – ANSWER TOO LONG]



Please note: Unless otherwise specified, each party was given 75 words to answer each question.

The deadline for all parties to respond was Friday 30 September. The National party said that answers to our questions will be supplied on release of their environment policies, in the coming week.