Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says just 3 per cent of farms in the Waikato will be affected by Labour's proposed water tax.

Ardern downplayed the impact of the proposed royalty on freshwater as farmers held a protest in Morrinsville today. The farmers feel targeted by Labour's plans to introduce a water tax and bring agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme.

They also feel that Labour has played a role in creating an urban-rural divide - a claim which Ardern rejected today.

Read more: Farmers protest against Jacinda Ardern's tax policies


"I have been reiterating throughout this campaign that I believe New Zealanders are united behind the issues that we need to tackle," she told reporters.

"United behind cleaning up our rivers, united behind ending homelessness, united around having better health services."

Ardern said there were just three water use consents within 10km of Morrinsville.

"My understanding is that Morrinsville has very few consents for irrigation and will see very little effect from our policy.

"Having grown up in Morrinsville I've always known that there are people who take a different view when in comes to politics than I do.

"Obviously, that still continues. I do have some hometown support too.

"My ultimate goal as Prime Minister though is to unite us behind the cause of making sure that our rivers are clean."

Some of the signs at the farming protest targeted Ardern personally, including one which called her a "pretty communist".


"Did they intend that to be a compliment or an insult?" she said. "I'm not sure."

Ardern is in Whanganui today, campaigning with Labour's candidate Steph Lewis and Te Tai Hauauru candidate Adrian Rurawhe. The Whanganui seat is up for grabs after being vacated by National's Chester Borrows.

Ardern promised to match National's investment of $6m to build a roof on Whanganui's velodrome and said Labour would put $3m into repairing port infrastructure.

Investing in healthcare would also be a Labour priority for the region, she said.

During a walkabout in Whanganui's Majestic Square, one woman told her she had been on a waiting list for mental health treatment for a year, and an elderly man said his GP fees had doubled in a short space of time. Nearby Patea had not had a GP for 18 months, she said.