Saturday, August 19, 2017
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Food security policy needed for NZ

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New Zealand produces an abundance of food and exports 60 per cent of our fresh fruit and vegetables to other countries around the world. Horticulture is in a growth phase with export values growing 40 per cent for the two years from June 2014.

There are times each year when what we grow in New Zealand is needed to feed the people of New Zealand. Spring is one of those times. Pukekohe is where we get our supply of spring potatoes, carrots and leafy greens. This supply is now under threat from houses and lifestyle blocks. If we, as a country, lose Pukekohe to houses, New Zealand will be reliant on imported vegetables – that is something we should not let happen.

Under threat

It is just not Pukekohe horticulture growing land that is under threat from houses and lifestyle blocks. Around New Zealand a lot of horticulture is co-located with the towns and cities. In many cases this is because it is where the best soils are.

The areas under threat from houses include Kerikeri, Mahurangi, Pukekohe, Hamilton, Matamata, Tauranga, Whakatane, Hastings, Gisborne, Palmerston North, Ohakune, Levin, Otaki, Richmond/Nelson, Christchurch, Alexandra and the greater Queenstown area. This is a lot of land around New Zealand.

To preserve our domestic supply and export growth, we make submissions to councils up and down the country asking for high quality horticultural land to be protected. Horticulture NZ has 29 sets of submissions before councils at present.

All of these submissions are aimed at protecting high quality horticulture land and protecting the right to grow – access to land, water – and rules that are not unduly restrictive.

Different rules

One of the problems that occurs is different councils take different approaches and make different rules. This could mean that part of a vegetable garden, for example, has one set of rules applying to it and the other part has completely different rules applying to it. Consistent rules applying across all of New Zealand would seem to the right way to approach the issue.

This is where the Food Security Policy comes in. This policy would not only ensure New Zealand can feed itself, it would also ensure the export growth continues and that export growth in turns adds to New Zealand’s wealth.

Housing New Zealanders and providing affordable housing are key action areas for the Government. The Food Security Policy proposal is not in conflict with that. Both housing New Zealanders and looking after food production can be achieved. In fact, they should be integrated so New Zealanders are housed and fed.

This cannot be done on a council-by-council basis. There needs to be one consistent policy for all of New Zealand protecting high quality horticultural land and housing our people.

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