The Groundswell protest a few weeks ago captured the frustration of thousands of passionate Kiwis.
It was organised and was dominated by farmers, but there was also significant number of other hard-working business owners who put down their tools to vent their frustration.
The tsunami of regulations out of Wellington being imposed on farming and urban businesses has been the catalyst of the protest.
Farmers came to the towns and cities with their protest and received widespread support from urban New Zealand.
The Government's ambitions of improved water quality, reducing New Zealand's contribution to global warming, and raising the standard of living of Kiwis are all shared by 99 per cent of those protesting.
It is not the ambitions but the process to achieve them that protesters are rallying against.
Urban New Zealand came out to support farmers because they are also facing the control from Wellington politicians that farmers are upset with, whether it be centralising the decision-making around health services, the Three Waters Reform, diverting road maintenance funding away from fixing potholes towards building cycleways, the deliberate squeeze on immigrant labour, or the ute tax.
This Government is suffocating the small businesses which are the heart of New Zealand's economy, and along with it the opportunity and ambition of our kids to be able to run their own businesses.
Farmers are facing numerous regulations; the issue is that they are blanket rules written by bureaucrats in Wellington who do not recognise the problems and the solutions are different around the country. Many of them are impossible to implement, add huge cost, will destroy profitability and, even worse, many will achieve marginal environmental gain.
Farmers are gutted that this Government has never acknowledged the momentum of investment and environmental progress on farms that has been under way for more than a decade.
Every regional council already has a land and water plan. ECan spent $60 million on their plan; it sets reductions that will be tough to achieve and, after significant consultation, it is widely supported by most affected stakeholders. These workable solutions to the unique challenges in each region are now superseded by the new Essential Freshwater legislation and all 32 regional councils must write a new plan by 2024. The estimated national cost to ratepayers is an additional $1.4 billion. This year's double-digit rates rises are just the tip of the iceberg. I fear the new plans will be rushed and there'll be a lack of skilled people to do the required work. This combination can guarantee poor regulations, which will be impossible to achieve without widespread business failure and possibly will not address the most critical issues of each region.
The Howl of a Protest was more than just the frustration of farmers; it was people from all sectors of provincial New Zealand making a stand for the survival of their businesses and their communities.
• Mike Cranstone, Whanganui Federated Farmers president, is a passionate fourth-generation Whanganui farmer, with three kids who would love similar opportunities to farm and nurture the land.