Protecting our elite soils and food security

Pukekohe’s elite soil and the future of food supply for Auckland has been the hot topic for Auckland Council, concerned horticulturists and MP for Hunua, Andrew Bayly.

“In the Franklin area there are elite soils that, together with a temperate climate, mean growers can produce crops at all times of the year when many parts of New Zealand can’t. For this reason, it is absolutely essential that the areas around Pukekohe and Patumahoe are protected from subdivision,” Andrew said.

The Auckland Unitary Plan has set a new boundary where subdivisions may occur. However this boundary can be subject to challenge which continually compromises the ability to protect these precious soils.

In addition, many growers are facing the issue of restrictions on their cropping operations as a result of new residents not wishing for spraying, burning and fertilising activity to occur in their neighbourhood.

Auckland Council is currently developing the Pukekohe Structural Plan which is an important document that will outline how activities are managed within this boundary. Given the importance of this issue, Horticulture New Zealand and the council recently organised a bus trip that included council staff and councillors, Franklin Local Board members, Auckland Transport and planning staff so they could visit cropping operations to assess how this tension between horticulture operations and new housing developments can be better managed.

Andrew said he has recently hosted meetings between concerned horticulturists and council staff to work through specific details that could be incorporated in the Pukekohe Structural Plan. “The visit and these meetings have been very useful for everyone to understand the issues and to start to consider how we protect this valuable industry that supports not only Franklin but provides food for many people in New Zealand and overseas,” he said.

In the photo attendees included Councillors Bill Cashmore, Chris Darby who chairs Council’s planning committee and Penny Webster, Angela Fulljames who chairs the Franklin Local Board, other members of the Board, and Andrew Bayly, MP for Hunua. The bus of 30 people visited the Sutherland property at Bombay, the Bhana property at Pukekohe and the Wilcox property at Patumahoe.

 

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