Houses or food, Mr Seymour?

26 Jan 2017


In a speech given on 23 January in Auckland, ACT Leader and MP for Epsom David Seymour stated:

“We need to take cities out of the RMA and introduce new supply-focused urban planning legislation in line with the recommendations of the Productivity Commission’s report Better Urban Planning.

Such a regime should prioritise: 

-          Supplying land and infrastructure in response to demand, including automatic triggers to release land when prices reach a given level.

-          Obligations to set out future infrastructure corridors

-          Less restrictive zoning, with fewer levels of zoning and restriction

-          Greater protection for existing property owners by allowing objections from those directly affected rather than third parties.

“The bottom line for ACT is that if we hold the balance of power after the next election, the Government must remove urban Councils, those with more than 100,000 people, from the jurisdiction of the RMA and introduce new legislation for that promotes an adequate supply of housing.”

My plea from horticulture is that if ACT does hold the balance of power, it promotes a workable balance between urban creep and lifestyle blocks vs. land suitable for horticulture growing fresh food; only about five percent of New Zealand is suitable for growing fruit and vegetables. In the past few years we have seen fruit and vegetable growing hectares reduced by houses and lifestyle blocks. In Pukekohe, for example, this has resulted in a drastic reduction in land that is used to grow New Zealand’s supply of spring leafy greens, potatoes and carrots.

Lose Pukekohe’s growing land and New Zealand will be importing vegetables at some expense financially, as well as with freshness and quality. Auckland City, in its Unitary Plan, has protected the one percent of elite soils in its area and we are asking them to also protect the three percent of prime soils so that Pukekohe can continue to supply fresh vegetables to Auckland and the rest of New Zealand.

So in our view, Councils perform a vital function for New Zealand when they protect the land on which we grow and fruit and vegetables.  We support housing reform, Mr Seymour, but not at the expense of fresh locally grown fruit and vegetables.

Mike Chapman, CEO


[The full transcript of Mr Seymour’s speech is available here.]