Here’s that rarest thing in New Zealand pop right now – a political song. A particularly fine political song, told as a tale of greed corruption and power by Anthonie Tonnon with concise language to rival Drive-By Truckers’ “Great Car Dealer Wars”.

Anyone who has travelled the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island recently will have seen the transformation of arable summer drylands into grass-green lush fields for dairy cows. All thanks to irrigation. All in the name of industrial scale dairy production for export.

The less said about depletion of underground acquifers, reduced water flows on rivers and irrigation run-off carrying nutrients and pollutants back into those depleted water systems the better.

I may be over-analysing this, but “Water Underground” seems to me to refer to some controversial current events in New Zealand, specifically the replacement of an elected authority overseeing irrigation consents at Environment Canterbury (ECAN) with a Government-appointed group of commissioners tasked with implementing water right allocation to meet the agricultural sectors wishes. And also the apparent conflict of interest involved from Government officials.

The best thing a protest song can do is simply tell a story, paint a picture, express a mood. And this does it expertly, by keeping the context vague yet intriguing. It makes it a universal song for any country where the environment or natural resources are being exploited for short-term development ‘need’ without much consideration for the longer-term consequences. Plus, it’s a cracking tune. There’s more great songs on the upcoming album from Anthonie Tonnon.