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Confusion adds to the stress levels

There’s a degree of confusion around rural Wairarapa concerning the new environmental rules and regulations, farm plan requirements, consultants’ input and the like.

It is a ridiculous situation and a classic example of Big Brother knowing best.

For a start, Wairarapa farmers have shown they want to farm in a clean, green environment. There are 17 Community Catchment Groups locally committed to doing just that. According to their website, there have been over 2600 voluntary hours committed, over 800 people have attended community meetings and workshops and there have been 125 facilitated events. It’s all most impressive.

One of those groups is Parkvale Catchment Charitable Trust. It was set up in 2019 as farmers in the area were informed by the Greater Wellington Regional Council [GWRC], that there were high nitrate levels in the Parkvale Stream.

They were interested to discover that there were some nitrate hot spots near a fault line but that the nitrate level was lower down the catchment where the farming was more intensive.

Andrew Watters is the chief executive office of MyFarm Investments and chair of the Parkvale Catchment Charitable Trust.

He described the current situation with GWRC as ‘very frustrating’.

“Resource management is fraught in New Zealand at the moment,” he told me.

“We have this intersection of National Policy, Local Regional Council Management and the courts and the result is a waste of time, effort and money.”

I agree.

“As a group we support the need for sensible environmental farm plans which are integrated with other planning and management documents needed by farmers” he added.

“But what has happened here is that we have Farm Environmental Plans, [FEP’s] foisted on us with very little notice and little consideration for ensuring we don’t have to do it twice when national plans come in. While I have read the requirements of the National Plan it is difficult to completely understand and compare and contrast that with GWRC.

“GWRC have failed to take farmers with them on this need for a Farm Environmental Plan, and requiring them to get consent to farm if they don’t engage is ludicrous,” Watters said.

He added that the current regime of multiple FEPs was a very blunt instrument, and it was no wonder we were struggling on the productivity front.

The issue is that at a meeting in Carterton recently, the Minister of Primary Industries, Todd McClay and the Minister of Rural Affairs, Mark Patterson, talked about FEPs.

They told us that the government’s aim was to get Wellington out of farming. Yes, they wanted a farm plan developed but they wanted a format that a farmer could use and do it without expensive consultant input.

That begs the question as to why the GWRC have written to farmers, giving them a format for FEPs plus a list of accredited consultants.

Doesn’t GWRC realise there has been a change in government and that the old system is being discarded’?

Don’t they realise that putting additional and pointless bureaucratic requirements on Wairarapa farmers will produce nothing other than an increased stress level in those farmers?


  1. Labour and greens policies have a lot to answer for when it comes to the rural farmers. The resource management act introduced by Labour stopped ✋ New Zealands progress in its development. All industry has suffered especially FARMERS . I hope National and it’s supporters can put New Zealand BACK ON TRACK,

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Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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