Hawke's Bay regional councillor Ewan McGregor quoted African-American civil rights leader Martin Luther King this week.
"I have a dream," McGregor said. His dream is to turn the nation's farm dams into wetlands, to partly redress the drastic change farming wreaked on the landscape.
He said many farms had redundant dams. "Many farms now are fully reticulated with polythene pipe and might be based on a single dam," he said.
For dams stock needed, he proposed a fenced-off concrete jetty that allows stock into the water without disturbing soil.
"I took a photo of a dam over the weekend. We are having a classic dry summer, but the water is of extremely good quality and if you compare it with others in the area that are unfenced, there is just no comparison," he said.
Fencing off stock helped the dam last longer by preventing it from silting up - shallow dams dried out in droughts.
"If you have no stock and filtration of vegetation, your dam life is substantially [extended]," he said. "If you have a dam that is partly silted-up and you want to do this ecological restoration, then now is the time to get stuck in and clean it out. I suggest it will be okay for many, many decades."
Transforming dams into wetlands is an idea many farmers have already used, but McGregor is hoping to kick off a wider movement. "I get my inspiration from the QEII National Trust. It was pushed by passionate people who had the vision, and look what has happened now," he said.
"The trust has been a fabulous success. In Hawke's Bay alone, there are thousands of hectares of private land in covenant - fenced off from stock in perpetuity. If that's not a success story, I don't know what is."
He said it was a good opportunity for the private sector. It also presented an opportunity for a major sponsor.
"It extends from North Cape to the Bluff. If 1000 farms did just one dam, think of the ecological contribution that would make," McGregor said.
Major fencing would be needed, but it would be a one-off. "You plant a few trees in the margin and, in terms of the ecological restoration of the water, that takes care of itself. Ducks bring in seed, and raupo will get established," he said.
"If you have the motives right, so people are really excited about it, they might do one dam every five years - not a big cost. After 20 years, they've done four dams. If just one farmer in every 10 did that in New Zealand, it would be a substantial contribution to our ecology."