Groundswell protest passes through

Maitland farmers Alet (left) and Phill Gerritsen joined Groundswell NZ’s Drive 4 Change journey...
Maitland farmers Alet (left) and Phill Gerritsen joined Groundswell NZ’s Drive 4 Change journey at Gore on Friday. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON
Tractors and drivers, part of a campaign opposing the government’s rural sector regulations and policies, passed through Gore on Friday.

Rerouting slightly around Mataura due to flooding-induced road closures, Groundswell NZ co-founders Bryce McKenzie and Laurie Paterson led a convoy of about 10 tractors out of Lorneville Stockyards at 9.30am, planning to arrive at Auckland’s Ellerslie Racecourse this Sunday.

Drive 4 Change is Groundswell’s latest campaign, timed to mobilise voters during election season.

Their message is simple: "Things are bad, you need to vote, and you need to vote for change."

"There’s no way that rural New Zealand can stand another three years of this," Mr Paterson said.

"I think this election really should ... not [be] this television spectacular, reality TV, but people should look at the issues and vote accordingly."

Groundswell’s previous protests demonstrated the feelings of the rural sector, Mr Paterson said.

"We’ve got a whole lot of academics, if you like, that decide how everyone’s going to run their businesses — and that just doesn’t work."

Maitland farmers Phill and Alet Gerritsen joined the journey at Gore.

His aim was to support Groundswell and he was going to drive his tractor as far as Clinton, Mr Gerritsen said.

"We’ve got to fight against these ridiculous compliances and the costs that go with it and we need to get rid of this government."

The eight-day drive will see Mr Paterson and Mr McKenzie lead a convoy though the country’s major centres before ending in Auckland.

Additional reporting Sandy Eggleston