Magazine joins clean, green NZ bashers

Last updated 05:00 25/03/2010

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Critics say international ridicule of New Zealand's "100% Pure" brand has come home to roost with another scathing article in an influential international magazine.

The publication of the article in the London-based Economist yesterday came as the Government was embarrassed by evidence that official figures touting the economic benefits of mining were too high.

The article is headed: "A backlash to New Zealand's vow of purity." The magazine, with a global readership the size of New Zealand's population, says it is time for the country to find itself a more sustainable brand – "and soon".

"The dilemma New Zealand faces is no different to that of other rich countries – how to balance economic growth with the need to address environmental degradation.

"But it is particularly acute in a country so dependent on the export of commodities and landscape-driven tourism. The difference between New Zealand and other places is that New Zealand has actively sold itself as `100% Pure'."

British newspaper The Guardian said in November that the clean green Kiwi brand amounted to a "shameless two fingers to the global community" in the face of a dirtier reality. In September, The New York Times ran a front-page story questioning the sustainability of the hoki fishery in New Zealand.

It has also been revealed that a 1.3 million-strong American lobby group, the Sierra Club, wrote to Prime Minister John Key protesting against the mining proposals.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said the articles showed the economy could not be run off against the environment. "It's a lose-lose strategy. You're losing the environment and you're losing the economy at the same time, and that is why [the Government's] strategy does not work."

Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee hit back over what he called "noise" about mining that was "ignoring the facts".

"Green mining is not an oxymoron, and the Government has made it clear that ... only modest and environmentally responsible mining would ever take place."

However, the Government was forced to admit the $4.3 billion potential value touted for mining part of Great Barrier Island was too high.

Labour MP Shane Jones told Parliament a geologist's report put the figure at a much lower $1.28b. Environment Minister Nick Smith said the value of mineral resources was not well known so the Government was funding work to find out that value.

Government royalties for gold, silver and platinum group metals are charged at 1 per cent for annual turnover up to $1.5m and 2 per cent thereafter. Royalties collected for the 2008-2009 year for minerals and coal were $7,577,981.

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