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Poor and uneducated show up in river statistics

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

There’s new evidence released today by the Swim Fresh campaign that vulnerable New Zealanders are missing out on the Kiwi experience of being by fresh water.

A Horizon poll in December of 1100 New Zealanders found that the single largest group of people who do not visit rivers and lakes are most likely poor, unemployed and uneducated.

Over one quarter of those earning under $50,000 annually had never visited a river of lake in the past year. 41% of the unemployed and beneficiaries had never visited. 60% and 70% of people with no or low high school qualifications had not visited.

This contrasted with people with higher household and personal incomes, and with higher education, who were more likely to have been beside waterways in the past 12 months - almost double the likelihood in some cases.

Swim Fresh boss Mark Blackham said the statistic was a worrying sign about changes in the fabric of New Zealand life and experience.

"Visiting and swimming in our rivers is last great free Kiwi experience within reach of almost all of us.

"Natural water locations have been proven to help people feel happier about themselves and about life in general. Swimming has an even stronger effect.

"It’s sad that people, and especially the young, who could most benefit from what the countryside has to offer, are not able to use it.

"Despite some unwelcome news in recent times about river water quality, there’s still plenty of places to visit for picnics, walks and swims. Many are within a short drive or ride of suburbs. Call your regional council to find out a place closest to you," Mark said.

Swim Fresh is a not for profit campaign proudly conceived, organised and funded by BlacklandPR; staffed by students at Massey University Wellington School of Communication, Journalism, and Marketing; and aided by Eighty One and Loop.

Visit for information on the data cited in this release.

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