Feeding New Zealand

20 Sep 2016

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The squeeze is on horticulture between the growing demand for Auckland housing and moves to clean up the Waikato River. Auckland City wants to build houses in Pukekohe, where there is available land, and a recent Waikato Regional Council (WRC) Plan change has severely restricted land use changes in that area – for example converting pasture to vegetable growing. The result is making it much more difficult to grow vegetables in one of our most important growing areas, by preventing relocation of vegetable growing from Pukekohe to the Waikato.

New Zealand needs fresh produce and to provide this, commercial vegetable growers require good soils and a suitable climate. Pukekohe, Pukekawa, Tuakau, Onewhero and Te Kohanga offer uniquely fertile volcanic soils and a climate that enables year round production, particularly of fresh, leafy green vegetables. This cannot be achieved in other areas of New Zealand due to unsuitable climates.

As both our population and our cities grow, we will need to maintain healthy and nutritious food supply at a reasonable cost to New Zealand communities. If we as Kiwis value safe, locally produced food, this is an issue we should all be concerned about.  Added to that, the consumer will not know that they have been imported as New Zealand law does not require country of origin labelling for the fresh vegetables you purchase.

So combined, the expansion of Auckland and the Waikato restrictions on land use change are restricting our ability to grow fresh quality vegetables year round and particularly in spring for leafy greens, spring carrots and potatoes.

For the record Horticulture New Zealand supports the Healthy Rivers Plan, and along with the region’s vegetable growers, we have been active in making submissions and working with Iwi and the WRC. We all want a clean river that we can swim in and gather food from. As an industry we are committed to achieving that.

- Mike Chapman, CEO