Waikato vegetable growing decision highlights need for nationwide policy to ensure New Zealand can feed itself

11 days ago

Horticulture New Zealand says the Waikato Plan Change decision allows vegetable growing in the short term but fails to take account of population growth and the need for healthy food, across New Zealand. 

‘HortNZ estimates that in less than five years, Waikato’s population growth will have outstripped the expansion in vegetable growing that the Waikato Plan Change decision supports,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘The expansion in vegetable growing is about half that required to meet population growth in the Waikato.  What’s more, there is no provision for expansion to meet Auckland’s projected population growth. 

‘What this situation highlights is the importance of nationwide policies that ensure New Zealand can grow enough vegetables to feed itself.  The Government’s decisions in the areas of freshwater management and highly productive land that are expected in April must allow for the continuation and expansion of vegetable growing. 

‘If they do not, New Zealand will face fresh vegetable shortages in coming years.  COVID-19 is already showing us that our country cannot assume it will be able to rely on imported food, if anything goes wrong. 

‘What is needed is a National Environmental Standard for Commercial Vegetable Growing so we can continue to grow vegetables in New Zealand, and expand production to keep up with population growth. 

‘New Zealand also desperately needs a food security policy, which would inform decisions across central, regional and local government that affect New Zealand’s ability to feed itself, particularly in times of crisis,’ says Mike. 

The decision on Plan Change One allows for rotation of crops and limited expansion of production but not enough to keep up with population growth.