Horticulture New Zealand has welcomed the Government’s draft National Policy Statement on Highly Productive Land, saying it will help ensure that New Zealand can grow its own vegetables and fruit.
‘The policy statement recognises that New Zealand needs its best soils for domestic food production,’ says HortNZ Natural Resources and Environment Manager, Michelle Sands.
‘Once you build houses on our best soils, you cannot get them back. However, with good planning and buffer zones, houses and horticulture can co-exist, which is important for three main reasons.
‘One, so growers can make best use of available land. Two, so growers can quickly get fresh produce to market and three, so growers have access to workers, given how labour intensive horticulture is.’
Michelle says keeping our best soils for producing food is also important in the transition to a low emissions economy.
‘As the Paris Agreement states, countries need to find ways to adapt to climate change “in a manner that does not threaten food production”.
‘New Zealand needs to ensure that it is able to grow all the fresh and healthy food that it needs, in a world where it will be difficult to import fresh food due to climate change.’
Michelle says at the moment, poor rules are preventing new vegetables gardens being established to replace land lost to housing in Auckland.
‘We know the country needs more houses. However, the current situation means that horticulture land lost to houses cannot be replaced.
‘This is why HortNZ is supporting growers in several regional government plan changes, such as Waikato Regional Plan Change 1.
‘This situation is also why we need central government to guide regional and district councils through policy statements like highly productive land, which recognise horticulture’s critical role in domestic food supply.’