Water campaigner gathers signatures from Invercargill to Wellington

Bung the Bore spokeswoman Jen Branje stopped outside ECan while driving a petition from Invercargill to Wellington, ...
Iain McGregor

Bung the Bore spokeswoman Jen Branje stopped outside ECan while driving a petition from Invercargill to Wellington, gathering signatures to deliver to Labour MP David Parker at Parliament.

Small town New Zealand spoke when the proposed Ashburton bottling plant was canned – now Bung the Bore hope the rest of the country will join them.

In preparation for 15 rallies around the country next Tuesday, Bung the Bore spokeswoman Jen Branje was driving a petition from Invercargill to Wellington, gathering signatures to deliver to Labour MP David Parker at Parliament. 

The petition called for a "moratorium on all New Zealand water exports, to such a time that acceptable legislation is in place to protect this precious resource from private profiteering."

Branje's car was parked outside Environment Canterbury's (ECan) offices in Christchurch on Saturday morning, before heading to Amberley, Hanmer Springs and on towards Picton on Monday.

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The car was coated in environmental slogans and drawings by the children of Glengary in Southland.

"They were very environmentally aware. It's important for the kids to be involved ... it's their future we're fighting for," said Branje.

The Save Our Water NZ petition was available to sign online as well as in Branje's car, and had more than 15,500 signatures "and climbing" on Saturday.

"Our victory in Ashburton in stopping the plant has been a catalyst for all New Zealand water issues, and has become a platform for other advocates to speak from," she said. 

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Bung the Bore lawyer Peter Richardson was organising the Christchurch rally for noon on Tuesday and said he expected around 200 people to show up.

So far there was two confirmed speakers: Sam Mahon and Simon Brown. Richardson hoped scientist Mike Joy would also attend.

Richardson said the group hoped the rallies would change the culture at ECan, councils and other regulatory bodies.

"A culture of putting people's interests in pure drinking water, the ability to swim in our rivers and everything that gives life ahead of commercial interests."

He said the group also hoped to see "more practical" outcomes from the rally.

"No more water bottling consents and all water taking consents to be publicly notified," he said.

Branje said Bung the Bore would also target councils over their responsibility for water consents.

"We're holding them to a much higher account ... your management of our water is not good enough."

Small communities were joining "city liberals" in taking up the fight for water purity on their own accord, she said.

"People are waking up, it's great."

 - Stuff

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