The first move towards what Kawakawa beef farmer Kate Lowe hopes will be a rebellion against the government's plan to preserve Significant Natural Areas (SNAs) will be made at a public meeting at the Kawakawa Rugby Club on Wednesday evening (June 2), starting at 6pm.
Lowe expects the discussion to be fiery.
"There is already a lot of anxiety in New Zealand - the farmer suicide rate is awful, we've got Covid to deal with, and now this," she said.
"Farming founded New Zealand, and this is an insult to primary producers throughout New Zealand.
"The rationale of the SNA process is farcical. Farmers work bloody hard to look after their land because the land is their investment and their business. And after all this country has been through with Covid, the rationale around SNA is in complete contradiction to the need to be growing our economy and getting New Zealand back on its feet for current and future generations.
"The SNA process prevents rural land owners from developing and growing their businesses, and it needs to be scrapped immediately."
The seeds for next week's meeting were sown when Lowe began alerting her neighbours, many of whom had been oblivious to the impact that the identification of SNAs would have on their properties.
She estimated that around 10 per cent of her 300-acre farm would be deemed to be SNAs. Ten acres of bush was already protected by a QEII covenant, as it was when she and her partner bought the farm, and which they took good care of. The SNA extension, however, would take in the bottom of the drive, floodgates and stopbanks.
The farm's bush, much of it in steep gullies, was valued for the protection it provided for the rest of the property, and as shelter for their animals. It was also home to rare birds, that were under no threat.
Ironically, she added, some farmers who had nothing to worry about had already felled all the trees on their land, so had no habitat requiring SNA protection.
Meanwhile Lowe had the full support of former Northland MP Matt King.
"My initial thoughts on SNAs are that it is a massive overreach by central government, which has put it on local government to organise and enforce," he said.
"The original intention of the policy, which I'm sure most people would support, was to identify major significant natural areas and work towards protecting them. What I think has happened is greenies and planners have misinterpreted the intention as taking in all areas that they think are significant. This has led to vast swathes of land being labelled as SNAs."
The process now under way amounted to a "massive land grab, and would significantly impact land owners both economically and emotionally.
"It does feel like we are descending into a communist state control situation, and we shouldn't tolerate it," he said.
My view on stopping this overreach is to demand full compensation at market value for any land identified, including rates reduction. This would effectively stop it in its tracks."