Horticultural industry warns building new homes should not come at the expense of productive land

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Announcing the plan, Housing Minister Megan Woods said modeling showed between 80,000 and 13,000 new homes could be built over the next two decades – provided councils, iwi and private developers also come to the party.

Mike Chapman, chief executive of Horticulture New Zealand, said while the country needed to build many more new homes, it could not come at the expense of valuable land used for growing fruit or vegetables.

“Every New Zealander deserves a home, just like every New Zealander deserves fresh, healthy, locally grown vegetables and fruit,” Chapman said.

“We can have both, but current policies favor housing over food security and protect New Zealand’s most productive soils from urban expansion.”

Chapman said nearly two years after the government launched its draft National Policy on Highly Productive Lands, “nothing has been finalized”.

“Wouldn’t it have been great today if housing and this aspect of food security were supported by changes in government policy?

“Because if New Zealand is not careful, healthy food will become just as unaffordable as homes for a growing number of New Zealanders.”

Chapman said that according to research from 2018, if cultivation in Pukekohe was unable to keep pace with Auckland’s growing population, the volume of produce grown could halve, while prices for vegetables such as lettuce could increase by more than 50%.

“The government must ensure that New Zealand has a viable horticulture industry, for the health and well-being of every New Zealander, especially as in a world affected by COVID, we cannot not rely on a steady supply of imports of any kind.”

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