Pukekohe soils need protecting

Pukekohe growers were in Parliament on Tuesday 14 August to hear details of a significant report into protecting the region’s elite growing soils. Hunua MP Andrew Bayly welcomed the Deloittes
review of the economic impacts of losing horticultural land to housing. The 66 page report commented on the unique soils of Pukekohe and the impact of future housing on growing land.
“The impact is huge,” Andrew said. “While accounting for only one per cent of the land in Auckland, Pukekohe growers supply 25 per cent by value of all of the fresh vegetables in New Zealand. The report highlights the significance to the economy of the $256 million a year that comes out of the Pukekohe region and the conflict between new housing development and how we continue to protect this valuable industry as well as the elite soils themselves.”

Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association chair Pravin Hari, who was in Parliament for the report’s release, says he’s “thankful” for it. “It’s great to articulate what’s happening and how important the soils are to us and how hard we try to look after them. I’m looking forward to working with the Government and local bodies to try to find a way forward to secure our future,” he said.

The report states that the Pukekohe region has exceedingly fertile productive soils, a temperate climate, easy and direct access to transport routes and immediacy to Auckland, which makes it so attractive for growers. Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman said, “This Government has shown a willingness to collaborate with horticulture, and this report is part of the evidence-base we will bring to the table as we work on finding the answers to the questions it poses. Deloitte has made six recommendations in the report which we agree with and will continue working on.” These include considered planning on land use to balance housing and horticulture, access to resources through water systems and more funding in horticulture education. He said decision makers need a clear view of the value of the Pukekohe food hub. “If they don’t, we run the risk of an economic hit to Auckland of up to $1.1 billion in 25 years, with the loss of up to 4500 full time jobs, less fruit and vegetables available, and prices up to 58 per cent higher. During that time Auckland will also be hungrier, with population set to rise to 2.3 million.”

What are your thoughts on the report and comments? Do we need to protect Pukekohe soil? Email us news@thepost.nz

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