Grow­ers urged to have say on wa­ter plan

Sub­mis­sions on the Healthy Rivers/ Wai Ora plan change are due Wed­nes­day, with im­pli­ca­tions district-wide. Pukekohe grower Brent Wilcox ex­plains why.

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Brent Wilcox is part of the third gen­er­a­tion of his fam­ily to grow veg­eta­bles in the Pukekohe re­gion.

‘‘We’ve been grow­ing veg­eta­bles in the area since the 1930s. Like a lot of the veg­etable enterprises, we’re a fam­ily busi­nesses and multi-gen­er­a­tional.’’

He says the in­dus­try has shifted over the decades, grow­ing with each gen­er­a­tion.

’’Sim­i­lar to a lot of pri­mary in­dus­tries th­ese busi­nesses have con­sol­i­dated as they have grown and where there were a lot of smaller op­er­a­tions there are now fewer larger en­ti­ties. They have also grown and spread from cen­tral Pukekohe to fur­ther south into the Waikato area,’’ he says.

Healthy Rivers/ Wai Ora: Pro­posed Waikato Re­gional Plan Change 1 rep­re­sents one of the largest se­ries of changes his sec­tor has seen.

’’We work on a ro­ta­tional sys­tem. We’re now grow­ing crops in ar­eas which al­low us to pro­vide for our cus­tomers through­out the year. It used to be what you could pro­vide in a sea­sonal ba­sis but we now look at what crops we can grow around the re­gion or within our district to meet de­mand year round.’’

He said the Healthy Rivers pro­posed plan change would make the flex­i­bil­ity to move crops around the re­gion based on sea­sonal de­mand and the op­ti­mal grow­ing con­di­tions pro­vided by dif­fer­ent ar­eas, much more chal­leng­ing for grow­ers.

’’I think the sec­tor has cer­tainly signed up to the process, we’re pre­pared to play a role in the process of cre­at­ing Healthy Rivers, the ques­tions are when it comes down to the de­tails and what does that mean in prac­tice on the ground.’’

The dy­nam­ics are com­plex and he be­lieves blan­ket rules on land use change and units are not the best way to ad­dress wa­ter qual­ity.

’’I think we need to be look­ing at the fac­tors that will cre­ate the most im­pact in re­la­tion to wa­ter qual­ity as op­posed to just blan­ket pro­vi­sions.’’

Sub­mis­sions on the pro­posed plan change close on March 8.

’’It’s an im­por­tant is­sue for our in­dus­try. It will af­fect the way our grow­ers op­er­ate into the fu­ture.

‘‘The im­pacts are po­ten­tially ma­jor for our sec­tor as they are for most land users. Peo­ple need to have an un­der­stand­ing of what the im­pli­ca­tions are for their busi­ness and have a view on what the changes should be. They need to voice their views. The way they can do that is by sub­mit­ting on the plan.’’

Go to www.waika­tore­gion.govt.nz/ healthyrivers.

‘‘The im­pacts are po­ten­tially ma­jor for our sec­tor as they are for most land users. Peo­ple need to have an un­der­stand­ing of what the im­pli­ca­tions are for their busi­ness and have a view on what the changes should be’’

Brent Wilcox says the plan will af­fect the way grow­ers op­er­ate in the fu­ture.

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