Farmer hopes for council seat

By Lawrence Gullery

A Te Pohue farmer who has lobbied on behalf of rural people for more than 30 years hopes to continue his work by winning a seat on Hawke's Bay Regional Council.

Kevin Mitchell, a former president of Federated Farmers Hawke's Bay, said he would stand for the new rural Ngaruroro ward at the regional council elections in October.

"It's really important we have a sound, rural voice on the regional council. We feel that voice has been lost for the past six years or so.

"While we have got councillors who have a lot of understanding of rural issues, it is pretty important rural people have a voice or representative of their own on the council."

Mr Mitchell still lived on the family farm, Eland, between Napier and Taupo.

He had been involved with the Federated Farmers for more than 30 years. He is on its Hawke's Bay executive committee, which lobbied regional and district councils on behalf of rural people.

"I now see an opportunity to get inside of the regional council to make a difference. Sustainability would have to be one of the main issues, sustainability in business and in the environment.

"If you look at the Resource Management Act, its four pillars were economic, social, cultural and environment. But by far I think the environment value has taken over all of the others as the most important."

Mr Mitchell had worked as a farmer for 42 years.

"It's a real balance. The more profit you can make on a land-based business, the more we can look after our land."

He said care for the environment had brought forward issues around the Ruataniwha water storage scheme as well as oil and gas exploration in Hawke's Bay.

"Those are issues that can generate a bit of negativity but we need to back our science to come up with decisions, rather than let emotion take over.

"We have a chance to create new industries.

"The dam for example will have flow on benefits for the water flow of rivers and recreational users.

"Everyone who buys into the scheme will be required to have nutrient budgets, which they don't have now, to monitor the nutrients leaving their land."

Mr Mitchell said he was aware of the issues around amalgamation but was keen to be part of a new united council, if one was formed in 2014.

"In terms of the rural community, any amalgamation which includes the regional council must ensure its work looking after the soil, water and environment, the drivers of productivity, are not swallowed up and lost."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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