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HortNZ welcomes moves to improve housing supply – but not on highly productive land

23 March 2021

HortNZ says the Government’s latest moves to improve housing supply are welcome but the new houses must not be built on highly productive land used for vegetable or fruit growing.

‘Every New Zealander deserves a house just like every New Zealander deserves fresh, healthy locally grown vegetables and fruit,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

‘We can have both but current policy settings favour housing over food security, and keeping New Zealand’s most highly productive soils safe from urban creep.

‘In August 2019, the Government launched its draft National Policy Statement on Highly Productive Land. This was at an event attended by two Government Ministers in Pukekohe, where some of the greatest pressures are.

‘Nearly two years later, nothing has been finalised. Wouldn’t it have been great today to have both housing and this aspect of food security supported by changes to Government policy? Because if New Zealand is not careful, a healthy diet will become just as unaffordable as houses for increasing numbers of New Zealanders.’

A Deloitte study of the value of vegetable growing in Pukekohe published in August 2018 made several dire predictions, if growing in that area could not expand to support Auckland’s population growth.

‘That study predicted price rises of 43% to 58%, pushing the price of a lettuce from $3.50 to more than $5.50 over the coming years. The study also predicted that the volume of produce grown could halve, decreasing by 46% to 55%.

‘In other words, the evidence is there. The Government needs to ensure that New Zealand has a viable horticulture industry, for the health and wellbeing of every New Zealander, especially as in a Covid affected world, we cannot rely on a steady supply of imports of any sort.’