Country came to town on Friday as more than 70 people took part in a Napier protest against afforestation of what they say is some of New Zealand's most productive farmland.
Intending to both inform people of the issue and the need to push Government to block sales abroad for pine-planting driven by carbon credit benefits, the rally attracted mainly a senior to retired farming community, many from the Wairoa district but including some from Central Hawke's Bay.
With a small number of placards, and shouting "Save Our Farms", they marched from Memorial Square, through the Emerson St parking precinct, Hastings and Tennyson streets, to the Municipal Theatre. Speakers included farmer and Gisborne district councillor Kerry Worsnop, Wairarapa farmer and sheep breeder Derek Daniell, Ngati Pahauwera iwi member Rose Perret, and 14-year-old Iona College student Sophie Stoddart, from Porangahau.
Perret was one of three from the iwi who spoke, concerned about the iwi development trust's decision to put iwi-owned Pihanui Station into trees, and said a group of beneficiaries of the trust were considering lodging a claim to block the decision of iwi leaders, saying members had not been consulted.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
She and fellow members said the concerns were the same as all of those at the gathering and together everyone had to fight to stop the loss of land from the food production chain.
Sophie resurrected a speech she had presented at school in Year 8, saying the loss of farm land for food production could be "the biggest disaster in New Zealand history".
Worsnop, who led a protest in Gisborne last week with the presenting of a petition to save two farms on the East Coast, said: "We cannot wait. This cannot go on another year."