Is there an urban/rural divide?

I would hope not.

Rural mythology is still strong in NZ.

That is, you can live in a city but still access the agricultural way. For example farmers' markets, driving or biking through the countryside.


This forms an attachment "townies "have with the land but also a sense of right to dictate how farmland is managed especially in the environmental sector, which is ok but respect must be shown.

Farms are people's homes and businesses and I haven't met a farmer yet who doesn't want to swim in clean rivers as well.

I believe townsfolk do still care about what's happening in rural NZ but they are thinking from their perspective (like where is their food from? Is it sustainable?) Rather than the farmers' welfare.

The real question should be, is the farming life sustainable?

We as farmers are victims of our own success. We portray a life of easy-going people, and a great family lifestyle, but in reality this is not always the truth. Farming now can be lonely and isolated with most partners working off farm. It's not helped with polarising comments from some agencies and media.

Humans are a herding species and farmers are no different - people need a strong community and sense of belonging. All strong communities need a social, environmental, cultural and financial foothold. People also need security in their own home - something tangible, something you can call your own. For a farmer it is the farm which gives a sense of immense pride.

In NZ we believe we have a strong and close community. This is a myth.

Out of 29 countries surveyed NZ came last.

A good community has two things - supportive behaviour and physical amenities.

Levels of community engagement are also falling and getting worse in the digital era.

We all need to connect. We all leave an environmental footprint. Urban or rural, we are all in this together and we must work together to reduce our footprint. We should be together but not the same.

We will all be safer and happier if social networks between urban and rural are built.

Communication leads to community. That means understanding our intimacy and mutual values. These must be respected and compassion shown. It is no good playing the blame game. As I said, we are all in this together.

Rural people need to realise the privilege they own and be generous with it, tell their stories. Urban people need to listen to these stories and immerse themselves with the countryside again as there are great social and economic benefits to be gained for all of us.

Nick Dawson is a Hastings District Council rural community board member.