Polluted Inheritance

Polluted Inheritance

New Zealand’s Freshwater Crisis

The parlous state of our freshwater ecosystems is just one signal that we face a more widespread, and unprecedented, environmental crisis.

New Zealand’s dairy industry is big business. But what are the hidden – and not so hidden – costs of intensive farming? Evidence presented here by ecologist Mike Joy demonstrates that intensive dairy farming has degraded our freshwater rivers, streams and lakes to an alarming degree. This situation, he argues, has arisen primarily through governmental policy that prioritises short-term economic growth over long-term environmental sustainability. This BWB Text is a call to arms, urging New Zealand to change course or risk the wellbeing of future generations.

What are BWB Texts?

BWB Texts are short books on big subjects by great New Zealand writers. Spanning contemporary issues, history and memoir, new BWB Texts are released regularly, and the series now amounts to well over fifty works.

All recently published BWB Texts can be purchased in print and digital formats using the ‘Buy’ or ‘Preorder’ buttons on this page. You can also subscribe to the series – a great gift idea! Find more information about subscription offers here.

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Print publication:
Ebook publication: Nov 2015
Pages: 76
RRP: $14.99
ISBN: 9780908321612
ISTC: A02201500000055A
DOI: 10.7810/9780908321612

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Philip Lake, 'Book Review: Polluted Inheritance', Ecological Management and Restoration, vol.18, no.2 (March 2017), E7.

M. J. Winterbourn, M. J., 'Polluted inheritance: New Zealand's freshwater crisis', Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 46 (2016), 235-237.

'Milkshakedown', Finnius Teppett, Salient, 10 April 2016

'Waterways in crisis - Joy', Peter Shand, Northern Advocate, 10 December 2015

Mike Joy was awarded the Reo mō te Awa River Voice Award at the New Zealand River Awards 2015! He was recognised as an outstanding communicator about the issues facing New Zealand’s rivers and streams.

'River stance', Rebecca Macfie, New Zealand Listener, 26 November 2015

Mike Joy on Radio Waatea, Waatea News, 20 November 2015


'This is a necessary book. Every New Zealander needs to read it, but unfortunately those who won’t will inevitably be those who really should. Bridget Williams Books has made a reputation producing ‘short books on big subjects’, and Polluted Inheritance by Massey University lecturer Mike Joy is exactly that. In 61 pages, Joy, himself a former dairy farmer, takes off our collective blindfold and very simply lays out some very startling facts about our rivers, streams and swamps – and it is worse than we ever suspected.' David Herkt, Fairfax