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The plan is to change the way farming is done in the heart of dairy country, Waikato, home to 30% of New Zealand’s dairy herds.
Farmers are further irked to learn that part of northeast Waikato is to be withdrawn from the notified Proposed Waikato Regional Plan Change 1 – Waikato and Waipa River Catchments, to allow for consultation with Hauraki iwi.
The 120,000ha to be withdrawn fans out from just north of Morrinsville, northward along the eastern side of Lake Waikare to Tuakau, across to the Hunua Ranges, to the northern regional boundary. This is about 11% of the Waikato and Waipa river catchment. It has 6135 ratepayers (about 6% of landowners affected by the plan change), including those in small centres like Te Kauwhata. The area includes the towns of Te Kauwhata, Meremere, Mercer, Pokeno, Waeranga and Maramarua, and key water bodies including part of the main stem of the Waikato River, the Whangamarino Wetland, Maramarua River, Whangamarino River, Mangatawhiri River, Mangatangi Stream, Upper Mangatawhiri Reservoir and the Mangatangi Reservoir.
This is another kick in the stomach for farmers in other parts of the region.
The council stresses that the area being withdrawn may be re-incorporated into the plan change process next year.
Federated Farmers, quite rightly, calls this a mess.
Its right to call for everyone to take a breath here and step back until the situation is sorted out and there’s more clarity.
Plan change 1 has been put together in a holistic and integrated way dealing with the whole catchment, and pulling an important part of it out undermines the integrity of the whole plan change.
With a general election less than a year away, politicians are jumping on the bandwagon.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters was in Morrinsville this month; he announced the iwi withdrawal as “breaking news” to the audience.
“The Hauraki tribal rohe covers a land area of up to 750,000ha, which now has a free pass for nutrients, water quality and farming. If you are white, brown or Maori from the wrong iwi, no such privilege exists for you.
“This makes a mockery of one law for all. It is one law for some iwi and another for the rest of us.”
This may be typical play-the-race-card Winston Peters. However, his message will resonate with Waikato farmers facing massive bills to make their farms compliant with Plan Change 1.