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Going into bat for horticulture

20 July 2021

Farmer and grower frustration with the Government became much more visible to the whole of New Zealand last Friday. 

Widespread public publicity like this is important to gaining the attention of Members of Parliament (MPs) and bureaucrats. 

This Government, unlike most since the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting system was introduced after a referendum in 1993, has a majority.  In other words, it does not need to rely on the support of any other political party. 

This Government also has clear policies around labour, the environment and the kind of New Zealand society they want to see.

As you have read and heard Mike say many times – and it is no different for me – HortNZ’s approach is to engage meaningfully and constructively with MPs and Government officials. We take this approach because if we don’t, horticulture would get left out, and we would have no chance of contributing to Government policy and how it is implemented across the horticulture sector. 

I know it is hard to see and for many, it is not enough but the horticulture industry – working as a collective – has influenced central and local Government policy and will influence implementation of policy, particularly around the environment and freshwater.  For example, ECan and Gisborne District Council formally recognising the Environment Management System (EMS) add-on as meeting Farm Environment Plan requirements.

Our overall approach goes something like this: ‘you keep on saying that horticulture is needed for New Zealand’s post-Covid economic recovery and environmental objectives.  That’s great.  But the horticulture industry needs labour, land and water, and the ability to get product to overseas markets in an economically viable manner.  Unless you support horticulture in these key areas, the industry will not be able to deliver on your objectives. 

Wellington is a world away from growing in regional New Zealand.  Horticulture New Zealand’s role, working with product groups and growers directly, is to bridge that gap and give growers a loud, meaningful and clear voice. 

Every day, my personal objective is to bridge that gap.  Please also do what you can to bridge the gap – not only by taking to the streets but also by providing us with evidence to back up what the industry needs, to be successful in growing, and delivering for New Zealand as a country. 

Hei konā mai