Water, Land and Growing the Best Vegetables in Pukekohe

13 May 2016

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Last Tuesday’s Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association AGM was well attended with all major vegetable growing interests represented.  What made the meeting particularly relevant were the guests speakers: Donna Flavell and Bill Cashmore.

Donna (in the picture) spoke about Water – Iwi Rights and Interests.  What Donna explained was Tainui’s position on the Waikato River and their project to clean the river up: she said “the short term costs of addressing the poor water quality are offset by the long-term benefits of good water quality”.  To help with the clean-up Tainui has established an annual allocation of $7 million to fund river clean-up projects. Anyone can apply to the fund.  Donna’s message was Tainui does not want to stop economic prosperity and fair allocation of water to all users – it wants to ensure this is done sustainably protecting the quality of fresh water.  Donna said that Tainui is looking for investment opportunities and partnering opportunities, including in vegetable growing.  These opportunities are there for growers to take up and we’ll be looking into them.

Bill Cashmore is on the Auckland Council and is the local councillor.  He has served the rural sector very well and it is hoped that he will stand again.  Some of the stats he gave about Auckland City are unbelievable:

- 50,000 more people will move to Auckland this year

- That is 800 people a week

- To house those 800 people a week, every week a new street needs to be built with 120 houses in it

Bill spoke of the need for the rural sector to remain engaged not only with the councillors but with the key staff at the Council to ensure that the rural sector voice is heard.

At the end of the meeting I gave a short HortNZ report focusing on protecting high quality land for growing vegetables and having the access to water to grow those vegetables.