Environment Minister Nick Smith takes a dip in the Manawatu River video

NICHOLAS MCBRIDE/Stuff.co.nz

Environment Minister Nick Smith tries out the water in the Manawatu River with fellow National MPs Jono Naylor and Ian McKelvie.

Environment Minister Nick Smith has taken a dip in the Manawatu River to celebrate its improving water quality.

Smith was in Palmerston North on Friday for the launch of the new Manawatu River Leaders Accord five year plan.

The accord was formed following headlines labelling the ​Manawatu River the worst in the western world in 2010.

Environment Minister Nick Smith, left, with National list MP Jono Naylor just before taking the plunge in the Manawatu River.
Nicholas McBride

Environment Minister Nick Smith, left, with National list MP Jono Naylor just before taking the plunge in the Manawatu River.

During his speech, Smith said he would swim in the river.

READ MORE: Making every water body swimmable is 'not practical' - Nick Smith

Rangitaane kaumatua Wiremu Kingi Te Awe Awe said he looked forward to seeing the the MP in "speedos".

Smith quipped back that Te Awe Awe would need sunglasses.

After the formalities were out of the way Smith, swapped his suit for boardshorts. 

Smith was joined in the drink by Palmerston North based National list MP Jono Naylor and Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie for the brief aquatics. 

"Who's the approved lifeguard?" Smith joked as the trio entered the water.

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Smith was quick to get into the water and swam a few strokes into the river before being swept a few metres downstream by the current. Naylor also took a few strokes, while McKelvie preferred to keep close to the river bank.

"This is the last invite the honourable Dr Nick Smith gets to Palmerston North by either of these MPs, I can tell you," Naylor yelled from the water.

Smith said it was "not too bad" as he exited the water.

Claims that the river was the worst in the western world were based on dissolved oxygen readings taken over one day that that reported very high levels at the Opiki Bridge site.

Dissolved oxygen is just one indicator of water quality.

The accord stated that despite the reports not being entirely accurate, they did provide impetus for change at a time when water quality was the subject of fierce debate.

Naylor said he arrived at the morning's proceedings where Smith told him about the idea.

"I had to go home and get my togs and some shorts for Ian McKelvie - The minister seems to travel with his togs."

Naylor said it a spontaneous decision.

"[Smith] had been speaking with Horizons [Regional Council] guys and today the water was deemed to be in a safe condition so he decided to go for a swim to highlight that.

"And I can't resist a challenge."

 - Stuff

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