Otago Regional Council chief executive Peter Bodeker (left) looks over plans for Newhaven with farmers Jane and Blair Smith. Photo by Sally Brooker
The man leading the Otago Regional Council walked the talk
Chief executive Peter Bodeker visited North Otago farmers
Jane and Blair Smith, on March 19, spending two hours walking
around their Five Forks property and discussing how the
council and its ratepayers could work more effectively
together for the common good.
The Smiths won the 2012 national Ballance Farm Environment
Awards for their work at Newhaven Farms Ltd, a sheep, beef,
forestry and dairy support operation spanning three
They are also actively involved in the North Otago
Sustainable Land Management Group (Noslam), which aims to
improve water quality and promote good pastoral management.
Mr Bodeker, who joined the council in November 2012, said he
had been away from the South Island for 30 years.
''The landscape as I remembered it has changed
He now wanted to consider ''landscape values'' and how the
people of Otago could prepare the region for the next 1000
Mrs Smith said most farmers planned five to 10 years ahead,
then as Ballance entrants they were encouraged to look at the
coming 100 years. But Mr Bodeker had a much wider
He said the emergence of iwi as genuine and relevant parties
in resource decisions had ''quite rightly'' forced the
council to look 1000 years into the future.
''It's a challenge as a pakeha society. It's a valuable way
to look at things.''
Maori used their land commercially, so it went beyond
recreational qualities, Mr Bodeker said.
''Where do we progress to? What is the norm for land use, for
commercial use and recreational use?''Mrs Smith said it was
important for land uses to be both profitable and
She was ''delighted'' Mr Bodeker was able to spend most of
his day seeing how land was being farmed in the region.
''Visits like this are valuable to me - to see farms in
practice,'' Mr Bodeker said.
He wanted farmers to understand how the council's Water Plan
could be put into effect, especially in meeting stricter
water-quality standards. Most farms had ''incredibly
complex'' operations to factor in.
''That's the work we're doing now - how do we appropriately
inform and measure water quality as it leaves the farm?''
He appreciated meeting groups like Noslam and the North Otago
Irrigation Company, which were already addressing those
Mr Bodeker and the Smiths agreed collaboration between all
stakeholders was needed to progress.
The council was looking for trends showing improvements at
first, rather than absolutes.
''It can't be fixed in one season if it's broken.''
That was why the new water-quality standards would not take
effect until 2020 and the river measurement regime had been
delayed until 2025.
''Prohibited activities are minimal,'' Mr Bodeker said.
''We've spent the last 10 years developing the plan. We're
shifting into implementation.
''In 10 years' time, we will measure the effect.''
He could not foresee changes to the Water Plan before then
because it had to be allowed to function.