Election result a rural ‘relief valve’

Maniototo farmer Stu Duncan felt the "Jacinda-isms" had taken their toll on many farmers, who in...
Maniototo farmer Stu Duncan felt the "Jacinda-isms" had taken their toll on many farmers, who in turn had stopped watching and reading current events "for the sake of their mental health". PHOTO: ALICE SCOTT
As Maniototo sheep and beef farmer Stu Duncan enjoyed a birthday meal at the Wedderburn Tavern for his wife Lorraine, the election result played out on the television sitting above them, and the couple, alongside other locals, watched with elation as it became apparent a National-led government was in the winning seat.

"It was like there was a pressure gauge in the room and the relief valve had been opened.

"It has been a particularly tough three or so years for rural New Zealand and this was the change that needed to happen," he said.

Heavy-handed regulation and compliance fast-tracked by a Labour government had led to a feeling of apathy and overwhelm within the rural community, Mr Duncan said, and he knew of people who had "checked out" from current events, choosing not to watch, listen or read the news.

"They needed to, for the sake of their mental health; the Jacinda-isms were taking their toll — it was extremely frustrating for many."

Mr Duncan believed the Labour-Greens government of the last six years showed us what New Zealand would probably look like in the next 20 to 30 years; rural New Zealand had been bullied to be ahead of the game, while urban counterparts had not been dealt the same hand, he said.

Mr Duncan was now feeling "quietly optimistic" about his farming business under Prime Minister Christopher Luxon.

"He was a businessman in his former life. That gives me a lot of hope.

"There has been a lot of pushback and I believe he will be the one that is going to finally listen."

It would be interesting to see what "intelligent business minds" Mr Luxon would bring in and where he would take the agriculture sector, Mr Duncan said.

"There has been a lot of energy and carbon pushback. It would be good to see the land use reporting in the Kyoto Protocol include native vegetation so farmers will be better compensated for planting and preserving these areas on their farms," he said.

As the special votes are counted, a coalition with New Zealand First was still teetering.

"It’s going to take a few terms in government to clean up this mess — even if they don’t need old Winny [Winston Peters] in this term, they would be well-paid to put him in there somewhere and keep him happy as they very well might need him later on.

"You’re better to take a few more players in your team to keep the bench warm.

"If you’re going to play the long game, you will probably need everyone."

By Alice Scott