"Values that are to be safeguarded" : meeting the challenge of improving the health of waterways on agricultural land : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Ecology at Massey University, Manawatū, New Zealand
Aotearoa New Zealand’s waterways are valued for many reasons. However, nationally, their
health has been declining. Animal agriculture is a significant contributor to this decline.
The country’s largest farm, Molesworth Station, is managed to safeguard its cultural,
conservation, recreation, historical and farming values. For this reason, managers of the
station’s farming operation sought information on possible impacts of current animal
agriculture on the habitat and water quality of Molesworth’s streams and rivers, and
recommendations on monitoring and improving the health of its waterways over time. This
thesis found the health of streams and rivers on Molesworth to be good. It provides
recommendations on monitoring and management, including areas where action could be
taken to address the likely impacts of fine deposited sediment on waterways.
Given both the scale of Aotearoa New Zealand’s animal agriculture, and its impact on
freshwater quality and habitat, improving the health of waterways will require an increase in
pro-environmental behaviour from farmers and will need to be sustained. This thesis also
looks beyond Molesworth Station to investigate the influence of basic human values on pro-
environmental behaviour in Aotearoa New Zealand’s agricultural sector. It suggests that
prioritisation and priming of certain basic human values are likely to suppress pro-
environmental behaviour and posits that targeted values-sensitive communication could
play a role in encouraging and increasing pro-environmental behaviour to meet the challenge
of improving the health of waterways on agricultural land.