Ask Morrinsville farmer Bradley Pickett what he thinks of former Morrinsville resident Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and he grins: "oh you wouldn't have the time for that."

Pickett is one of just three Morrinsville farmers that has consents for irrigation on their dairy farms. Labour's plans to tax 1-2 cents for each 1000 litres of irrigation water will cost him about $1500 a year in taxes if that is set at 1.5 cents.

He is not impressed.

It was Ardern who pointed out only three farmers near Morrinsville had irrigation consents. That was to try to claim the farmers' rally in Morrinsville on Monday was ridiculous given few will be affected by Labour's plans to charge royalties for water used for irrigation.


Pickett said the farm used 91,000 cubic metres of water last year - "a good year" - but often went over 100 cubic metres. That could mean a tax bill of $1500 a year.

"But that's not the only thing - there's a bit of a trifecta of taxes proposed.

The [Green Party's] nitrate tax, you whack that on the top of it, and the carbon tax. So it's going to be a huge shock and a change to the system."

He said it would mean production dropped.

"We need it to grow our grass that we desperately need to grow at certain times of the year. It's very important. Our lives depend on it really."

His father Graham was responsible for getting the farm onto irrigation - "he was a bit ahead of his time for the area."

It meant rather than feed on supplement on feed pads they could get more out of their pastures. "It gives us a bit of an edge in dry periods."

Those were usually December, January and February.

It had been a very pluvial winter in the Waikato but that was not always the case. He had attended the farmers' rally in Morrinsville and said all his own farm waterways had been fenced for the last 5-6 years and he was now moving those fences back further.

Behind Pickett the cows have walked themselves to the milking shed to be milked.

Cow 328 ends the interview with a loud moo to remind him they were waiting.

The other two farmers which used irrigation in the area could not be contacted - it was milking time.

- Story has been amended - incorrectly quoting cost at $15,000 (real cost is $1500) per year.