Farmers cripple towns and villages with massive protests against government regulations
In Auckland, tractors drove down Queen Street. In Christchurch, they toured the cathedral.
In towns and villages across the country, farmers nearly brought traffic to a standstill as they turned up in their thousands to ask for the government’s ear.
At the biggest protest in Christchurch, curious onlookers smiled and cheered as 2,000 farmers in Utes and tractors marched through Cathedral Square.
Chants of “enough is enough” were heard and the sound of barking dogs echoed through the square as protesters voiced their concerns.
Groundswell NZ protest coordinator Aaron Stark said he had received death threats before, but the protest was peaceful.
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He had farmer friends who suffered from mental anguish because of the government’s overwhelming and growing demands, he said. The demonstration aimed to give her children a future.
“I want to leave what we have on the farm better for my children.”
The main concerns of Groundswell NZ and the subject of the “Howl of a Protest” were what they described as unworkable environmental policies for freshwater, important natural areas (ANS) and climate change.
The organization said people felt overwhelmed by the avalanche of “ill-conceived policies” and “the best-known, one-size-fits-all mindset” of the current government.
Farmers were not the only ones participating in the protests, with many traders, business owners and townspeople supporting them.
Dianne Downward said the regulations were “killing” the farming industry.
Despite being a resident of the town, Downward feared that rising regulatory costs could lead to increased food and shopping costs.
Another town resident, Sean Wylie, feared the government would “put pressure” on New Zealand’s food supplies.
“Are we going to do better by importing all of our food in the future?” It’s just crazy.
The government had to make decisions based on what was good for everyone, he said.
In 55 towns of Kaitaia in Southland, large convoys of farmers passed through farm gates and went to their nearest town.
In Auckland, hundreds of farmers passed the morning traffic on the Southern Highway, putting traffic around Drury and Ramarama in traffic jams, before heading to Queen St.
Large crowds then gathered at Ellerslie Racecourse after 50 tractors looped around town.
The country’s northernmost protest was held at the A&P Kaitaia Exhibition Center, where dozens of farm vehicles and utility vehicles, along with many people, showed up to show their support.
In Palmerston North, members of the Extinction Rebellion sat on a crosswalk, trying to stop farm vehicles from passing, until police pushed them forward.
Angela Baker, a member of Extinction Rebellion, said they stood up because they did not want to incite violence.
Palmerston North protest organizer April Schroder said the protesters were stretching 15 kilometers to reach the city center.
Among the hundreds of people gathered in Richmond, near Nelson, were Paul and Jenny Lindsay, farmers from Teapot Valley, with Charlie, 12, Billy, 8, and Rocky the dog.
Paul Lindsay said landowners knew how to run their own farms and “someone in Wellington shouldn’t tell them how to do it.”
Jenny Lindsay said she was concerned about rights taken away from local councils.
“It can’t be one size fits all. We are all for helping the environment, but it has to be doable. This is not feasible at the moment.
She said she knew people who had sold their farms to “businesses” because it had become too difficult to farm themselves and the money they were offered was good.
In Ashburton, around 1,600 farmers expressed disapproval of government policies, while hundreds made their presence known to Timaru, around 600 in Invercargill, and 800 vehicles brought Gore to a standstill.
While there was strong support for the protest around New Zealand, there was also criticism.
Retired agricultural and environmental scientist Dr Linton Winder said Groundswell NZ’s proposals essentially called for the removal of most of the new regulations, but that would only delay effective action for at least another decade.
“It will be too late then. “
Winder said it was well documented globally that taking action on the climate emergency and the biodiversity crisis would save billions in the long run.
“The terrible floods in Christchurch which affected our farmers so much [in May] is unfortunately a foretaste of things to come.
Winder said it was reasonable to introduce a tax on ETUs on the polluter pays principle.
“And it is reasonable to accurately map the ANS areas, so that wise plans can be put in place to protect New Zealand’s amazing flora and fauna.”
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said the government is keen to work with farmers on issues such as freshwater and climate change.
Labor MP Kieran McAnulty said the protest did not represent the entire industry and undermined the hard work of many farmers.
In Blenheim, where the Conference of Local Governments was being held, national leader Judith Collins promised farmers that there would be no ute tax if her party was elected to government.
Forest & Bird regional director Debs Martin said the government’s changes were aimed at protecting nature and rural communities.
“Just sit down and have these conversations and let’s move on. We have to work through it. “
Forest & Bird had lobbied a lot for funds to support “the good work that a lot of landowners are already doing”, such as fencing waterways and wetlands.
“For people who do good things, [the protest is] is not going to change what they do, ”she said.
While the protest was supposed to be a one-time event, organizers warned attendees that they may be asked to start over.