Why should you pay to clean up New Zealand’s waterways?

7 Mar 2018 by The Million Metres team Auckland Council Northland

Million Metres is a unique nationwide charitable project. It was created by the Sustainable Business Network in partnership with the Department of Conservation.

We are planting one million metres of waterways up and down the country with native plants and trees. We do this by helping landowners and local volunteer groups set up and run crowdfunding campaigns for their projects. That way they attract much-needed support from individuals, businesses and government agencies.

The farmers should do it!

Farming is obviously at the heart of what goes on in New Zealand’s landscapes. The state of our waterways signals an urgent need for change. But New Zealand’s economy has been built on farming. We’ve all benefitted as a nation. We’ve all let this problem get out of hand. So we can’t leave it to a small group of us to sort out.

Many Million Metres projects are led by farmers. Most of them have already spent their own time and money planting along the waterways. They are part of the change we all want. We want to encourage and support them. Do you?

Big businesses should do it!

Some pretty big, profitable businesses have used New Zealand’s water over the years, and continue to do so. We think there should be better ways to ensure that everyone pays their fair share for what they use.

We could spend our time and resources campaigning on that. But our job is to plant native plants and trees along the waterways, so we get businesses to help us do that. The unique thing about Million Metres is that it is backed by the Sustainable Business Network (SBN). This is a group of about 500 businesses all over New Zealand who are committed to ensuring people and nature prosper. All of them give 5% of their SBN membership fee to Million Metres. Many companies have donated directly to Million Metres and its projects. Several donate regularly via specific products or promotions linked to our work. So even if you aren’t able to donate to us, you can support us by buying things you need.

The government should do it!

The crisis in our waterways is a big political issue, as it should be. And a lot of people are pretty peeved the government didn’t do more and act sooner to clean up this mess. Fair enough.

That’s part of what created Million Metres. We didn’t want to spend all our energy grumbling at the government while our rivers turned to sludge. We wanted to help the hard working volunteers who are getting stuck in and helping. Will you?

And the government is helping. Hundreds of millions of dollars has been put aside to support waterway restoration. The Department of Conservation supports our work. And lots of local councils lend their conservation expertise to the projects we support. And Million Metres is a charitable project. That means you get a third of your donation back in tax credits. So if you donate, you know other taxpayers are part of this too.

With all that help, do you need me?

The world is full of things crying out for our attention. It may look like everybody is wading into New Zealand’s water issue. But it’s a massive problem. It’s been building up for more than 150 years. It’s going to take all of us to fix it.

The total length of permanent waterways in New Zealand is just over 508,000 kilometres, or more than 500 million metres. There is no accurate figure on how much of it needs to be restored. It’s definitely more than we can do on our own. Even planting all the waterways will not be the end of the story. We must change the whole way our nation relates to water. So we need everybody to do their bit.