One year after Havelock North water crisis, communities call for action

Press Release – Forest And Bird
On the one year anniversary of the Havelock North water crisis, twilight vigils for fresh water were held in city centres around the country tonight.

Illuminated by candle light, people met in Havelock North, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin with a shared message for politicians: ‘New Zealand’s people and environment need clean water’.

Michaela Evans, a Havelock North vigil organiser said: “New Zealand’s two most precious assets are its people and their environment. Safe water sustains life and we cannot live, let alone thrive, without it.

“We are one year on from the Havelock North water crisis. Through this vigil, we hope to empower people around the country to keep speaking up until we see the changes that will prevent such an terrible event happening again.”

Annabeth Cohen, Freshwater Advocate for Forest & Bird, said at the Christchurch vigil: “Canterbury and Hawkes Bay have borne the brunt of the abuse of New Zealand’s waterways. Our rivers were once full of native fish, eels, river birds, and insects. Now, two thirds of New Zealand’s rivers are too polluted to safely swim in. Ninety per cent of all wetlands have been destroyed, and three quarters of our native freshwater fish are heading for extinction.

“Our politicians need the courage to listen to the people and act to restore ecosystem health and consequent human health.”

Rosemary Penwarden, said at the Dunedin vigil: “The reason I’m here tonight is because I’m a grandma. I’m here to protect fresh water for the next generation.

“People in Dunedin have been reminded this week how vital water is because thousands of residents have had to boil their water. Fresh water is a right that we should demand and stand up for. Of all the places in the world, New Zealand should protect our clean water.”

People gathering at each vigil held candles, and heard concerns and hopes from community, iwi, environmental, and health spokespeople. There was also singing, fire circus, and music at the family friendly events.

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