The Crown and Iwi should sort out their issues and the solutions should not be part of the Land and Water Forum deliberations, says Federated Farmers board member and Ashburton sheep and beef farmer Chris Allen.
“These two are the treaty partners and they should go away and sort it out,” says Chris, who has been a national board member for Federated Farmers since 2013 and advocates for water, electricity – he’s the FF energy spokesperson – and works on pest management portfolios.
Chris is also part of the Land and Water Forum, which brings together a range of stakeholders consisting of industry groups, electricity generators, environmental and recreational non-government organisations, iwi, scientists, and other organisations with a stake in freshwater and land management. They are joined by central and local government participants and all are charged with developing a common direction for freshwater management in New Zealand and to provide advice to the Government.
Chris says this forum is not the place to settle treaty grievances. He has concerns about requirements for Iwi to be consulted over Resource Management Act consents.
“Iwi have involvement in the RMA and like everyone else, should be consulted. But iwi own a huge amount of land and with having to be consulted over the RMA there is a potential for conflict,” says Chris.
The Land & Water Forum has three types of groups. The ‘Flexi Group’ is made up of five to nine people from Beef & Lamb, DairyNZ, Fish & Game and Federated Farmers. This group worked on the stock drinking water exclusion.
“The stock drinking water exclusion details came from a remit to Federated Farmers national committee.” Chris says its success as part of the forum process shows the importance of farmers making remits to Federated Farmers at a national level.
“The Land and Water Forum has stipulated that farmers can decide the setback of fences and plantings.”
Also as a result of the remit it is possible the Inland Revenue Department will change its tax schedule to allow costs of providing water to stock in paddocks, which have been fenced to keep them out of waterways, to be tax deductible.
The forum’s second body is called the ‘Small Group’ and has representatives of 25 different groups around the table. “This is the workhorse on issues, and operates bit like international trade negotiations.”
The ‘Planning Group’ works on the final details then reports to the Government, which has ministries’ representatives sitting in on the discussions.
Finding common ground between such diverse groups is not always easy and when it comes to biodiversity, Fish & Game and Forest & Bird and Federated Farmers need to work out their differences on the terms of reference for the National Policy Statement for Fresh Water Management, says Chris.
While FF and Forest & Bird do have areas of common agreement, especially around predator control, there are other areas in which they are at odds that need to be worked through.
Chris says more work needs to be done on the science around biodiversity, including looking at trends, problems and possible solutions. In some waterways introduced trout may be a threat to native fish species and perhaps should be excluded from them.
Chris farms an irrigated sheep, beef and cropping farm of 360 hectares adjacent to the Ashburton River at Ashburton Forks, running 4500 stock units. He was recently appointed as a community member to the joint Ashburton Zone Committee of Environment Canterbury and Ashburton District Council. Chris is a member of the Mayfield and Districts Lions Club and was a longstanding Board of Trustee member.
He was among the speakers at the 70th Annual Provincial Conference and AGM for Bay of Plenty Federated Farmers.