New Zealand's national media seems to be focused on President Trump's treatment of government employees, rather than a similar issue closer to home, writes Wairarapa Federated Farmers President, William Beetham.

While New Zealand's media judges President Trump's actions that have left federal government employees unpaid and in limbo, something similar on a smaller scale is happening in our own back yard - but our national media is largely silent.

Currently, hundreds of hard-working Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre educators and administrators are suspended without pay due to a government decision.

Further to this, hundreds of students have been left unsure of their future.


That news of this process was served up right before Christmas and was a bombshell for the educators of the future working generation of the New Zealand agricultural sector.

Wairarapa Federated Farmers President, William Beetham. Photo / Supplied
Wairarapa Federated Farmers President, William Beetham. Photo / Supplied

I'm sure that uncertainty and anxiety really added to the Christmas spirit and festivities for all these contributors to society, and their wider families.

Why has this happened?

The government has every right to review, restructure and change, and to ask industry to contribute to how tertiary training is provided.

Further, they have every right to question the board of Taratahi and hold it to account.

Read more from Federated Farmers here.

But this process should not be at the cost of the people on the ground.

As a person who is occasionally known to lean towards the left, I find it most troubling that a Labour-led government would put hard-working employees who are the foundation of the Labour movement in this position.


And that's not to mention the at-risk youth who took the plunge into training to work on our farms, orchards and market gardens who may now have lost hope in creating a future career.

All Labour supporters would have to ask their government why they have ignored their core values in this Tertiary Education Commission/government decision.

Does the PM even know what has occurred and all the consequences?

Serious questions need to be asked about this process. But the nation's main media have been AWOL.

Local media have done well to shine a light on the issues and specialist agricultural media have run with it.

But from other national media, television, etc, there has been deathly silence on an issue vital not just to the industry that earns the lion's share of our export income, but even more so for the position Taratahi staff and students have been thrown into through no fault of their own.

There has been plenty of coverage here of Trump causing financial hardship for federal employees as he tries to blackmail Democrats and dissenting Republicans to pass the budget he needs to build his 'wall'.

But on a smaller scale here, when the wages and salaries of a significant group of New Zealand employees are frozen, all is quiet.

There is disagreement on the current state of agricultural training at the top, and quite rightly so.

The system is not working. But those at the top have caused significant suffering to the grass roots Taratahi people and that I believe that is wrong.