The Auckland Readers & Writers festival is an absolutely brilliant book festival — full of wonderful authors, amazing food, generous volunteers who’ll do anything for you, hugely enthusiastic booksellers and audiences of 800+, not to mention life-changing talks (James Fergusson on The Taliban blew my mind completely.  I’m desperately trying to remember what I learned about Afghan history and politics because the situation there is so difficult and slide-y).

But weirdly enough, one of the things I’ll remember most about New Zealand is the water.

I’ve been getting tons of strange looks when I tell people that it’s even better than the wine. I’ve never tasted water like this, and I’ve had good water in my day, hell yes (wonderful icy well-water at my sister’s house in Maine is hard to beat).

But this stuff is different. I can’t get enough of it. I’d describe the taste to you but that’s pretty much impossible.

Anyway, I’ve heard two things here that have upset me alot.

One, was at dinner with (another) old friend from advertising days who now has his own agency in Auckland. He says he’s working on an ad campaign to sell expensive imported bottled water. Sorry, WHAT?

And the other, much more serious fact, is the one about China.

According to the front page of the NZ Herald the other day, China has 20% of the world’s population — and just 2% of the world’s water. It also has a massive economic dependence on manufacturing. Which uses lots of water. As well as a thirsty population. While in China last month, I learned that Beijing is technically situated in a desert, but that the government has been diverting water from everywhere it can to keep the city functioning.

So where will China get the water it needs?

I’ve already heard about a couple who are setting up a business selling NZ water to the Chinese. And I’m sure they’re the tip of the iceberg.

With Australia suffering ten years of drought on one side and China on the other, you can’t help wondering about the future of NZ’s water.

Food (or water) for thought.

 

 

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