Farmers tell Government 'enough is enough'

Farmers across New Zealand have told the Government "enough is enough" and are giving it a month to address their concerns.

This afternoon, farmers, tradies and agricultural sector workers began protesting in cities and towns across New Zealand against several Government reforms.

Thousands turned out in the South, with huge turnouts in Gore, Dunedin, Alexandra and Wanaka.

Utes, tractors and farm dogs descended on towns across New Zealand, with a plane and four helicopters taking part in the Gore protest. In the aftermath of the protests traffic is moving slowly throughout Dunedin and in other parts of the South.

A convoy of farm vehicles heads through the Octagon. Photo: Craig Baxter
A convoy of farm vehicles heads through the Octagon. Photo: Craig Baxter

Orbus Dunedin said on Facebook Dunedin city buses were facing city-wide traffic Issues.

With the large number of vehicles stuck in traffic, buses were not able to service Princes St and many other streets heading north, the organisation said.

Many buses would instead run along the one-way network.

Motorway congestion was also causing issues, and travel would be delayed in both directions, it said. 

Police estimated up to 200 vehicles were involved in the protest today as the convoy travelled from Mosgiel through town and north on to State Highway 1.

Police respected the lawful right to protest, and monitored the activity to ensure that both the participants and community were safe, police spokeswoman said.

There was traffic congestion along the way, as expected, but no significant issues and it had eased by the early afternoon, she said.

Positive reports were received of the protestors courteous driving behaviour, she said.

At the protests across the South there were placards and signs, including ones that read "No farms, no food" and one directed at Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying "Stalinda NZ is NOT Russia".

The protests have largely been peaceful, but in Dunedin a supporter removed a sign from a climate change activist staging a counter-protest.

Protesters have been encouraged to bring their dogs to the "Howl of a Protest".

Farmer Hamish Mackay from Spotts Creek Station reads from the statement being read at protests...
Farmer Hamish Mackay from Spotts Creek Station reads from the statement being read at protests around New Zealand. Photo: Marjorie Cook
Event co-ordinators have started reading out the same statement at protest sites, listing the group’s concerns as:

  • Unworkable freshwater regulations.
  • Proposed Significant Natural Areas policy penalising conservation-minded landowners.
  • Over the top, one-size-fits-all state control.
  • No respect for people, their privacy and property information.
  • Overseas corporates buying up New Zealand farmland to offset emissions.
  • Taxes on essential work vehicles.
  • Out of control costs crippling small business.
  • Unprecedented mental strain on people.

The statement says Groundswell NZ has ‘‘put a stake in the ground and said enough is enough’’ and calls for a halt to all environmental regulations including freshwater, indigenous biodiversity/significant natural areas, climate change, high country legislation and to remove the ‘‘ute tax’’.

The Government’s clean car standard puts a fee on high-emissions vehicles like utes to fund a discount on low-emissions vehicles.

The group warned it would take further action if the Government had not made sufficient moves to address its concerns by August 16.

A convoy of tractors in Wanaka. Photo: Marjorie Cook
A convoy of tractors in Wanaka. Photo: Marjorie Cook
‘‘Everyone is feeling overwhelmed with the avalanche of poorly designed policies and the we know best, one size fits all mindset of the current Government.’’

Groundswell NZ were keen to promote workable solutions.

‘‘Our leaders are at the forefront of environmental action.’’

The protests are taking place in 55 towns and cities starting from Kaitaia to Southland.

In Gore about 1000 people and roughly 100 utes and tractors gathered at the A and P grounds ahead of speeches were are due to start about 11.45am.

Sheep farm owner Richard  Byars, of Waikaka, said he and his wife Sarah Byars and their daughters Caitlyn (13), Marissa (12) and Erica (6) and their working dogs travelled in their ute in the protest to "stand up against the silly rules coming in".

"They are all a nuisance."

Mr Byars said the pressure from the new rules was impacting on the mental health of farmers.

"It's not good."

Farmers gathered in Mosgiel to travel to Dunedin to participate in the protest.

In Dunedin people gathered in the Octagon to support farmers before they drove past in a convoy as part of the protest.

Among them were six-year-olds Ari and Luke Wallace who are there to support their grandfather Peter Cashmere, a third generation Taieri dairy farmer.

They are holding up signs saying "I love poppa" and "Give farmers a go".

As the convoy started to drive through there was lots of tooting and cheers from supporters. 

A counter protester standing in the middle of the road had a sign which read "No farming on a dead planet" ripped from her by a bystander.

Hundreds of farmers have gathered to protest in Gore. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Hundreds of farmers have gathered to protest in Gore. Photo: Gerard O'Brien

More than 1000 people had gathered in Alexandra. Pioneer Park was full of farm vehicles, including utes and some tractors.

Many farm dogs were also present.

They would later be doing a procession through the centre of town at 2pm.

The protesters were being peaceful. A lot of families were present. 

Hundreds of people and vehicles met at the Wanaka Showgrounds to protest.

The roads around Pembroke Park were completely jammed with traffic in both directions and lots of people tooted horns. 

National MP Nicola Willis was there.

Bannockburn father and daughter duo Erin Chittock with dogs Stan and Dave, and Kerry Chittock and...
Bannockburn father and daughter duo Erin Chittock with dogs Stan and Dave, and Kerry Chittock and dogs Gus and Reg during the bark up at the Groundswell Howl of a Protest in Pioneer Park in Alexandra. Photo: Shannon Thomson
Farmer Hamish Mackay from Spotts Creek Station read the statement.

Hundreds of tractors descended on Invercargill.

Organiser Bruce Robertson estimated at least 500 people would attend the protest with about 200 hundreds of tractors and utes participating in the event.

“This is a response to the regulations that are unworkable and unmanageable.

“Farmers are finally standing up for their rights to have their voice heard and ask for more responsibility from the government.”

Invercargill man Gus Johnston attended the protest with his daughter Sarah Blair-Edie from Birchwood  station and grandchildren Lex (5), Joe (3) and Florence (2).

"Something needs to change," Mr Johnston said.

Hundreds of tractors, trucks and utes have taken over Timaru streets today as South Canterbury farmers and tradespeople protest Government regulations.

Lines of vehicles are back-to-back travelling up Timaru's Port Loop Rd from the port, and along Evans St - State Highway 1 - from the north, before merging to ride in convoy down Timaru's Stafford St, the town's main shopping street.

Signs and banners outlining grievances are adorning many vehicles, and locals have turned out in support, many also holding signs and banners.

Utes drive through Gore's main street. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Utes drive through Gore's main street. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
It was an early start for key players in the Groundswell protest in Alexandra this morning with organiser Melanie Wethey and farmer Jan Manson appearing on TVNZ's Breakfast this morning.

The Groundswell NZ Howl of a Protest at Pioneer Park in Alexandra today is one of 51 occurring throughout New Zealand.

Speaking to TVNZ's Breakfast Omakau farmer Jan Manson said this was the most vocal farmers had been in a long time.

"Generally rural people aren't excitable. It takes a wee bit to sort of get us rattled but I think that's what we're feeling now."

"The legislation that comes down from the top has unintended consequences, and I guess its almost embarrassing for [the] Government when they have to back track on issues that we could have told them right from the start don't work, and can't work in certain circumstances.

Tractors gathered at the A and P grounds in Gore. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Tractors gathered at the A and P grounds in Gore. Photo: Gerard O'Brien

"I guess meanwhile for local communities we're finding that responding to this legislation is actually on top of our day job - for legislators it is their day job."

She said farmers were not "shirking the fact changes were needed but farmers and rural communities needed to be part of the process.

Speaking to the Otago Daily Times yesterday, Ms Wethey said organisers were expecting 20 to 30 tractors and "a couple of hundred utes" but that number was a moving beast.

Meanwhile the ODT understands a convoy of tractors from Ettrick and Roxburgh is making its way to Alexandra.

Groundswell co-founder Bryce McKenzie, of West Otago, said there was a lot of mental anguish in the farming community, but he hoped protesters would stay peaceful.

He wanted those who turned up to be passionate, but not angry.

"If somebody is angry about what’s happening and they’re thinking about coming on a tractor, we’d ask them not to do that.

"We are speaking up for them, so they don’t need to be out there taking out their anger on anything."

A tractor on a motorway in Auckland. Photo: Emma Olsen
A tractor on a motorway in Auckland. Photo: Emma Olsen

Organisation of the event had gone "really well" and each of the co-ordinators had their areas under control.

Safety was the biggest concern among organisers and protesters had been given guidelines on how to minimise traffic and safety issues, he said.

Only time would tell if their message had got across, but he hoped the protest would be remembered for the right reasons.

Christchurch organiser Aaron Stark told John MacDonald on NewstalkZB their main concerns are around constant changes to regulations and the "moving of goal posts".

"We're fed up to be honest. Every farmer I know around here, around Canterbury, we're having the talk that maybe it's time to hang up the boots and find something else to do.

"It's getting to a point where we can't do it."

The Otago Daily Times reports that in Dunedin, organisers have decided it would not be safe for the protest to stop in the city so participants will drive through the Octagon, between about noon and 12.15pm, their dogs barking.

Federated Farmers national president Andrew Hoggard said there was a real risk of the agricultural sector being made out to look like "a bunch of fringe nutters".

A big concern was offensive signage being brought to the protests, which would do more harm than good.

Groundswell NZ co-founders Bryce McKenzie (left) and Laurie Paterson. Photo: Sharon Paterson
Groundswell NZ co-founders Bryce McKenzie (left) and Laurie Paterson. Photo: Sharon Paterson

In last week’s Federated Farmers newsletter, Mr Hoggard asked protesters to tell those who showed up with offensive messages to "bugger off".

Just turning up would have an impact and their message would be shared by presence alone, he said.

Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins was unable to attend the protest, but said if the protesters were looking for constructive engagement they should prevent the event being "hijacked by fringe conspiracy theories".

Communities in both rural and urban settings had a common interest in conserving the environment, but the differences lay in how to achieve that and how urgently.

Despite those differences, protesting was a proud tradition in New Zealand and "a privilege we should all cherish", he said.

Gore protest coordinator  Logan Evans, of Otamita Valley, and his working dogs at the  A&P...
Gore protest coordinator Logan Evans, of Otamita Valley, and his working dogs at the A&P Showgrounds in Gore. Photo: Shawn McAvinue
Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said too many changes being made by the Government were disproportionately affecting rural communities and businesses.

"Metropolitan centres may be where the majority of votes exist, but we need a fair New Zealand which allows all Kiwis to thrive economically, environmentally, socially, and culturally," he said.

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult said he would be surprised if the protest was "anything other than an orderly event".

Oamaru protesters head out onto State Hwy 1 from the North End Business Park. Photo: SUPPLIED...
Oamaru protesters head out onto State Hwy 1 from the North End Business Park. Photo: SUPPLIED/HELIVENTURES NZ

A police spokeswoman said the protest would be monitored to ensure everyone’s safety.

Dunedin participants of the protest will drive through the Octagon about noon.

They will then return to Mosgiel where former Invermay head Dr Jock Allison would give a short address and Groundswell NZ's statement on how it sees things would be delivered.

Protesters in Queenstown. Photo: Supplied
Protesters in Queenstown. Photo: Supplied

Even though protest vehicles would be keeping left and letting other traffic flow as smoothly as possible, there would still be significant disruption to the travelling public around Dunedin and Balclutha and more time should be left to get to destinations. 

With NZ Herald



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Maybe they mean the Advance NZ elements now active in rural communities. It is unusual to 'cool' an action before it's even begun.

Maybe unusual but certainly sensible. The screaming greenies would want to paint them in the worst possible light. So, credit where credit is due.

think they are gonna look like "fringe nutters" really - poor farmers they think protest is just for "fringe nutters". what about building some shelter for your animals in the winter so you dont keep spreading that bovis virus.

A little research goes a long way, not all cattle get sick, confining the cattle may make the issue worse, and finally that would be a very large shed taking up valuable paddock space.

"Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins was unable to attend the protest,"
That was totally expected.
Farmers or any conservatives group of any breed, are not what who Hawkins would want to listen too. They are not his type of people.
The sheer fact that conservatives are taking to the street is a major warning to the totalitarian left.
Who comes next ?
The great silent majority has been poked so often now, they are finding their voice.

Well said.

Ideologues are not rural folks' type of people, either, ewo.

A warning to he totalitarian left?
What little fantasy world are you living in?
If we had a totalitarian left Govt the protest would not have happened, it would not have been reported and you and the organisers of the protest would e serving long terms of imprisonment in a gulag, without trial.
Totalitarian left!! Really!!?

Yes, totalitarian left.
Do things really have to degrade to the Soviet or Mao or Pol Pot level before you will recognize it?
Hawkins not having the guts to be present and publicly engage with farmers and their supports shows how divisive the Greens are. How many of this governments parliamentarians will be turning their backs as well.
The Greens and this government are not interested in public discussions about the consequences of their policies.
They just want to push their agenda, as if they will save the planet, and are willing to impoverish NZ in the process.
We need people in leadership that can actually get things done or are willing to listen to those that can.
How are we doing with Kiwibuild? What about reducing our coal burn? What about reducing gun crime?
It's all been Unicorn stuff so far, but break their new rules, then watch out.

Here's an article from the Guardian for them to read....

Yep, th e pollution from urban centres is terrible.

Actually the pollution from urban centres has stopped from 4 decades ago and the clean up was paid for by the industries causing the pollution, not the taxpayers. Potential urban polluters are strictly monitored and heavily fined if they pollute.
Not like the farmers. They caused the problem by negligent farming practices. They've got away with it since farming began in this country. Now they are being told to clean it up and pay for it. they're whining like little kids who have been told to put their toys back in the toy box.

Actually IRD your wrong, Auckland still has raw sewage go into the harbor and Wellington has pipes bursting putting sewage into its harbor, and just before co-vid Queenstown applied for resource consent to put raw sewerage in to the lake.

Hi nightimejohn, I read the article in your link but it all appears very speculative - no science, comparisons of rivers over time etc. I agree that our fresh water resources are precious, and should be protected. I think the overwhelming majority of farmers agree too.
The question is what do we do about it ? Farmers are sick of poorly designed regulations been spat at them from Beehive, especially when many of NZ's cities are serious polluters (via sewerage, storm water etc). Some of our city councils (cough cough) are not even competent enough to provide clean drinking water for their citizens.

We need smart policy that is effective in improving water quality, without constructing unnecessary bureaucracy, and without generating unnecessary costs for our food producers. Clearly a one size fits all policy won't deliver that - weather and topography of different areas need to be taken into consideration. Central government struggles to deliver functional and navigable websites, let alone navigable environmental regulations. Reals before feels. Peace....

Well here's the thing. New Zealand's cities and towns have existed in many cases for well over 100 years and have had slow organic growth over that time. Until around 25 years ago the rivers of New Zealand were largely swimmable and drinkable too. What has changed over those 25 years is not a massive growth in the pollutants flowing into water sources from urban areas but a massive growth in intensive and unsustainable dairy farming. The farming community have resisted all attempts by various government's to regulate the effects on the environment and protest loudly whenever they are called to clean up their act. I for one haven't forgotten the tractor being driven up the steps of parliament.

Here is another one about UK farming. A government-commissioned review lays out the damage our diet and farming system wreaks on the environment. “Our current appetite for meat is unsustainable,” it says. “85% of farmland is used to feed livestock [and] we need some of that land back.”
That 85% of land provides only 32% of the calories we eat, it says: “By contrast, the 15% of farmland that is used to grow plant crops for human consumption provides 68% of our calories.” The report also tackles the myth that grass-fed livestock are greener.

No one is forced to eat meat. If consumers decide to eat less meat and more plants, the market will convert the appropriate amount of land. Who are the people eating meat? Answer: for the most part, not the people farming it. Turns out, lots of people really like meat.

As I have said before, pat, if you don't like farming or the farmers then don't eat or wear what they produce.....

Seeing you only refer to the Guardian, I found this for you.
Seems we inadvertently stopped the coming ice age by raising our standard of living out of the stone age.
I wonder how many Billions of lives that saved?
According to paleontologists, Europe had a population of 200,000 during the last ice age so lets make a guess of 5 million worldwide. Current global population is 7.674+, less the 5 million, so I'd say 7.669+ billion.
I'm also willing to bet those that survived the last ice age did so by burning stuff and that spreading the industrial age over the whole planet made fending off the coming ice age possible because the UK would never have been able to produce enough CO2 by itself. Now I'm starting to wonder if the British Empire actually 'saved the planet'.
What was the species decline during the last ice age?

Yesterday’s folk being left behind on the wrong side of history.

Yesterday's folks, the people carrying this country

The technocratic leeches who make the 'rules' have little, if any idea how to produce anything except paperwork to feather their own nests/thiefdoms. How many local & central government jobs have been created for the form fillers?

The vast majority of what is produced in agricultural New Zealand is exported, yet, the environmental cost is something every New Zealander now has to deal with.
It costs our tourism industry, It costs rate payers, as we now have to treat water, It costs our health and our healthcare system, due to cancer causing nitrates.

New Zealanders are sick of subsidising your costly practices. Which is why this government, elected by a landslide majority, is asking you to clean up your act. Take your tractors, your utes and your nitrates home. Learn a better way, or get out of the industry.

If you failed to notice, we have no tourism industry anymore

Well look, to all you folk critising farmers, have you own protest about the damage to the environment. Stand up tall, take action now! Set the example, do NOW!!!!
That is what is being asked of farmers. They're being asked to task multiple regulations at great cost FAST! So here's your chance to show them how to do it...
Buy nothing that is plastic, nothing that uses fossil fuels, nothing that is grown from soil, nothing that has come from a mine, nothing that remotely resembles mechanised transport, nothing from a forest, nothing imported, then you can stand there in the cold naked as the day you were born.
Then, maybe, if you eat your own sewage, you could come close to being enviromentally neutral. Get real people, all they want is the ability to do their ALL depend on them whether you know it or not. A systemic change will take place as we all adjust to what is needed. Radical and poorly planned changes won't get us anywhere fast. Yes, the climate is changing, yes, we need to move as promptly as possible, but for goodness sakes, look to yourselves and make the changes you can, that's all any of us can do. Start with no unnessessary travel....good luck :)

Time to remove all the tax concessions farmers get for fuel and machinery. Taxpayers should not be paying for rich people to cause all this pollution just for their anti-environment protests.

Do all that and see how much your food would cost, do you actually have a clue where the money to run this country comes from????

Seems the farmers are getting desperate.
At last we have a Govt of the people who are prepared to stand up to these bully boys who have for generations been subsidized by the taxpayer, been allowed to farm with out any regard to sustainability, have caused the worst erosion in the world through over stocking, have poisoned the land and waters with over application of fertilisers, released untold tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
The have fought tooth and nail against every reform to try and reduce the negative impact they have had on our environment. Look at riparian planting They were totally opposed until the taxpayer started funding it for them and now that the benefits are showing they claim credit. It will be the same with the new water regulations. The new water regulations are not unworkable, they're expensive and that's the problem. Even though they caused the pollution that caused the problem they want someone else to pay for fixing it.
Time to pay the piper boys. Get yourself back to work and start repairing the damage you have caused on our country, show some of the backbone you claim to be.

You can always rely on a greedy entitled few to whinge.
A mindless protest while the world burns.

You do realise where your food comes from eh? You do realise that as farmers costs increase, so does your food costs. Be sure not to whinge about that eh? And as you drive your car, fly in a plane or take a cruise....the world burns.
Why are so many people targeting farmers? You are all resposible, you all have to make swift changes. all need to eat!

Farmers will still be on the farm....producing food for the greedy entitled population. They will still be earning the export dollars we need for the cycleways.....Swinging at farmers is like punching yourself in the nose....think about it :)

All the best to those taking part. Yes some farming reforms are needed to improve our waterways but farmers must be consulted and have input on any changes. The lack of respect the farming community have been shown by our current government is appalling.

Seriously, that muppet who stole that lady's sign... she has just as much right to counter-protest as the farmers have to protest... and I support the latter.

The farmers are very short sighted. They live by exporting and if they don't clean their act up the countries that they export to will be applying are carbon levy (Read tax) on all NZ exports.

As a young kid I remember swimming in the rivers in Otago and Southland and actually drinking the water from those rivers. No way is that safe NOW!

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