This week New Zealander’s were delivered a damning report by the World Health Organisation stating that Auckland’s air quality was the worst in Australasia, ranking similar to Tokyo (1).
Our Minister for the Environment, Dr Nick Smith, was not impressed and challenged this claim, stating that the figures were not consistent with Ministry for the Environment figures. How could clean and green New Zealand have air quality as bad as Tokyo? It must be a mistake.
The following day the UN body withdrew it’s data, backing down from such claims (2). New data will show Auckland has only slightly worse air quality than Sydney, and Dunedin, that dirty southern city of smokey coal fires and fume-belching student cars, will have the worst in New Zealand, but still far better than Tokyo.
So Dr Smith was vindicated, New Zealand can still hold true to it’s 100% pure brand (even if Sydney is 1% more pure). It was only an accident on behalf of the World Health Organisation. Or was it?
Accidental yes, but not as a result of good environmentally sustainable planning on our Government’s behalf. It is purely accidental that New Zealand is located in the path of the roaring forties wind belt which kindly blows any air pollution away across the vast expanse of South Pacific. Auckland’s position on a narrow isthmus exposed to such winds is also purely accidental (in relation to air quality). And finally, New Zealand’s small population and low population density which heavily influences good air quality (and all other quality of life factors) is purely accidental, or should I say incidental.