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Resource Management Act replacement must protect and promote local food production

5 July 2021

Horticulture New Zealand says the legislation that replaces the Resource Management Act (RMA) must ensure that New Zealand can sustainably grow fresh, healthy food for domestic consumption.

‘Access to healthy food, freshwater and housing are essential to health and wellbeing. These matters need to be planned together, and require national direction,’ says HortNZ Environment Manager, Michelle Sands.

‘While New Zealand is a net food exporter, many of the vegetables and some of the fruit that we grow are only for domestic food supply. We also have a national food producing system that relies on growing vegetables and fruit in pockets of highly productive land, with good climate and access to freshwater.

‘The issue is that the places that are best for growing food are also attractive for housing. The national direction proposed in the new legislation will seek to resolve conflicts like these. New Zealanders can have healthy food and housing, but it needs good forward planning and strong direction.’

Ian Proudfoot, KPMG Global Head of Agribusiness, who has recently authored the 2021 KPMG Agribusiness Agenda, says his report indicates that it is important for the prosperity of all New Zealanders that the country continues to be a leader in global food production systems. 

‘To do that, our food producers need to become more involved in supporting a values-based food production system, which finds a way to balance all outcomes: healthy food and food security, as well as environmental and social outcomes, including housing. 

‘While New Zealand should not be embarrassed about selling high quality products for high prices and good margins around the world, we need to recognise that doing this successfully on an ongoing basis relies on us making sure our own food system is working for all New Zealanders.’ 

Michelle says HortNZ welcomes how the draft legislation will promote the protection of highly productive land from inappropriate subdivision, use and development.

‘However, while the draft legislation written is clear about housing and urban outcomes, it needs an equivalent outcome related to domestic food supply. Without it, there is a risk that the need to house people and to supply municipal water will come at the expense of feeding these same people, which will put the health of current and future generations at risk.’

Michelle says New Zealand’s existing food production systems are coming under increased pressure from population growth, climate change, and the need to improve environmental outcomes.

‘The importance of our domestic food system should be explicitly recognised to ensure that a reliable supply of fresh and healthy food for New Zealanders is an outcome that we actively seek, when planning and managing our natural and built environments.’ 

Media release