New Zealand's failure in key environmental areas was announced in a high-level conference during a time when the nation's 100 per cent pure brand is under international media scrutiny.

Insights were given regarding New Zealand's climate, energy efficiency and waterways were given in the recent Environmental Defence Society's national conference.

New Zealand's former prime minister, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, was a keynote speaker and said he was not surprised with the alarming findings. Mr Palmer said New Zealand needs to address critical issues, particularly the environment.

Mr Palmer cited the Fonterra milk scare as an example of New Zealand's fragile environmental image. Since the country has prided itself with the 100 per cent pure brand, New Zealand's image is of great value.

News of the Fonterra milk scare came out after the Ministry for the Environment showed data that it was not safe to swim at almost two-thirds of recreational sites near rivers in New Zealand.

Dr Angel Hsu, another conference keynote speaker from Yale University's Centre for Environmental Law and Policy, referred to a 2012 international report to illustrate how New Zealand was ranked against other nations.

New Zealand ranked 14th place out of 132 countries in east Asia and Pacific region but had a below average score air, fisheries and water resources.

Professor Ralph Sims from Massey University School of Engineering and Advanced Engineering also gave his own report card about New Zealand's energy efficiency. Mr Sims awarded the nation a half-mark in energy performance.

According to the professor, New Zealand is the only country in the world that has not set a target and given a pledge to reduce carbon emissions. Mr Sims said other countries remain true to their commitments, and the only way New Zealand can save face is to set up a policy to reduce carbon emissions.

Mr Sims gave a score of four out of five to New Zealand for accomplishing two-thirds of its renewable energy generation.

The freshwater systems in the country gave a different story with quality of water getting worse in urban areas. Land and Water Forum Chair Alastair Bisley said most Kiwis had expressed concerns that water is "not as good as it should be." Mr. Bisley has already recommended regions to work together to address the water problem.

Environmental Defence Society Chairman Gary Taylor felt New Zealand will have to make a lot of improvements to keep up its image of 100 per cent pure brand.