New illustrated book on rivers by Bill Benfield

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new illustrated book on rivers by Bill Benfield


A new illustrated book on rivers by Bill Benfield.
Published by Tross Publishing, Wellington.
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The state of our rivers has become a political hot topic, so much so, that even politicians’ are getting involved. Everyone has a different idea about what we should do about it. Urban based and often conservation groups blame agriculture, particularly “dirty dairy”. Rural communities blame “townies”. Both are right and both are wrong.

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On what was dryland farming land, irrigation has changed the game


The problem of our rivers is as much a problem of both central and local government, farming, urban discharge and a national “out of sight out of mind” attitude.

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Out of sight and out of mind in rivers treated as open sewers. The big blobs are plastic bags of rubbish and the small ones are lumps of rancid fat.


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Privatising what were river margins means council flood control by bulldozer now happens in the river bed. Even if the water is clean, there will still be no swimming here.


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A river lost


Because river margins are privatised, we have lost access to rivers, and often we don’t see what is going on.

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What was once public access beside a road bridge is now private. A gated cattle race and beyond, a river bed overgrown with broom and blackberry.


Even the so-called “mitigations” like fencing rivers to exclude animals in reality only adds to the rivers woes. As well, people are also excluded and the river is now lost.

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The fenced off river – it is over there somewhere!

Where does it all end up? In the oceans, habitat to many rare and endanged species including Maui’s dolphin.

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Out of sight and out of mind. This example is in the Northern Hemisphere, but in the south, we have Henderson Island which is pretty bad.


This book looks at all these factors, plus issues of free water to foreign exporters and impending problems concerning a major push by the Iwi Leaders Group for ownership and potential commercialisation of water rights.
It looks at the possible cures, such as rivers of a swimmable standard and asks what is needed for this to be achieved.

The book is available from Tross Publishers;

P.O. Box 22143,
Wellington 6441.
Or Email
Price $20 (including postage in New Zealand)