Ngai Tahu plans dairy farms

Ngai Tahu is planning to develop some of its land for dairying:

The board of Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu (Tront) has approved a proposal to trial three dairy farms, with milk production to begin as early as next year.

The iwi outlined its aim of becoming a national leader in sustainable dairying practices to its shareholders at its annual meeting at Karitane late last year.

This is good news for Ngai Tahu, dairying and the wider economy and if the commitment to sustainable practices is upheld it won’t impact negatively on the environment.

. . . Ngai Tahu Property chief executive Tony Sewell told the iwi magazine, Te Karaka: “We are a massive land holder in Canterbury and economically the highest and best uses for this land is to convert it to some form of agricultural use.”

“At this point in time, in economic terms, dairying far outweighs any other agricultural use but that doesn’t mean long term things won’t change.”

While it had objected to dairy farm operations in the past, notably those proposed for the Mackenzie Basin and Upper Waitaki, the iwi was prepared to take “ownership positions and leadership positions” in regards to its own dairying and water management operations, he said.

“We are a natural leader and already people and local and regional councils are coming to us wanting to know where we stand. And we have decided that we are standing here as a leader. It is a philosophical shift.”

Ngai Tahu is generally well regarded in the South Island for its successful business dealings and environmental management.

If it’s able to apply the skills it has in both these areas to dairying it will be very good for the runanga and the industry.

20 Responses to Ngai Tahu plans dairy farms

  1. robertguyton says:

    Why do you think an iwi that is in the position to do so, would convert forested land to dairying, rather than a biologically diverse, traditional mahi nga kai resource: eels, harakeke, raupo, weka, inunga te mea te mea?
    They want to lead, but in which direction?


  2. homepaddock says:

    I think the forest referred to is exotic and the story makes it clear they’re looking at the best economic use for the land.


  3. robertguyton says:

    Yes it was pine forest Ele.
    Is ‘best economic use’ top priority for Ngai Tahu, given their success in other areas of business?
    Are they scraping for a dime?
    Could they afford to hold another ideal higher than ‘best economic use’?
    Such as awhi for Papatuanuku?
    Dairy farming is not the way to thank your mother.


  4. Richard says:

    There is little economic value in “biologically diverse, traditional mahi nga kai resource: eels, harakeke, raupo, weka, inunga te mea te mea (etc)?”.
    That said, the wider issue of water and environment issues is developing at a pace and that is good for the country.
    My view is that economic and environmental imperatives are not incompatible, are essential. NT are developing a good record on the environmental e.g Lake Ellesmere. I am sure they will do well in the dairy venture. They are long term investors.

    Mind you “Ngati Rednecky” will be on the case – but bugger them.

    What NT ought to be getting behind is the concept of transferring wasted water from the west to the east coast, where it is short,- producing power on the way. This would go a long way to enhancing the environmental and economic imperatives.


  5. robertguyton says:

    Richard – Lake Elesmere is … he roto ne ra?
    A dairy farm is one of those things that ruins lakes.


  6. Richard says:

    The point I was making- it was an e.g. “for example” of NT efforts to clean up the lake but also get agreement with the eal fishers to get agree on cleaning up the lake i.e. its good for both parties.
    NT, I am sure, will use best practice not to pollute.
    Just refer to my comment that economic and environmental are not incompatible- this might be outside the box for you- but it is not for me and for many others. Just needs imagination and planning


  7. robertguyton says:

    Economic and environmental can be compatible but where NT have the opportunity to use land for the betterment of the iwi, why would they choose dairying?
    No.1 – for the money.
    No.10 000, for the whenua.
    Using ‘best practice’ sounds very good, will the best possible dairy farm benefit the environment?


  8. Raupo Soup? says:

    What is the carrying capacity of ” a biologically diverse, traditional mahi nga kai resource: eels, harakeke, raupo, weka, inunga te mea te mea?”

    as opposed to a dairy farm (given that the income can be traded for food, clothing etc)?

    “The Green Party policy is not based on prejudice, but an objective analysis of what level of migration is compatible with a sustainable New Zealand.” Keith Locke

    I wonder what sorts of activities the Greens envisage and what sort of population levels…. are we there yet?


  9. robertguyton says:

    ““The Green Party policy is not based on prejudice, but an objective analysis of what level of migration is compatible with a sustainable New Zealand.”

    That’s very wise.

    Having a migration level that wasn’t compatible with a sustainable New Zealand would be foolish.
    Are we there yet?



  10. Myth making? says:

    “Dairy farming is not the way to thank your mother.”

    What humans do is take over the ecosystem by agriculture. “Mother” is just as happy with a beech forest and for 60 million years “mother” was happy with dinosaur children.

    Robert Guyton suggests we can have it all ways: a pristine ecosystem, a growing population and that the Green party is has an eye on statistics by which it can “objectively determine” a carrying capacity, yet such things are “excruciatingly difficult” to determine.


  11. robertguyton says:

    I suggest that ‘Mother’ isn’t happy that her lakes and rivers fill with effluent of any sort. There is a difference between waiora and waimate and it’s a vital one that affects all humans. Agriculture is part and parcel of human civilization but there is agriculture that benefits the environment and agriculture that denatures and damages the environment. Ngai Tahu have a very good opportunity to show the world the best of ahuwhenua but I don’t think dairying is a good way to do that. However, I’ll be watching with great interest to see what exactly it is that they propose to do. As alwys, my interest is in the environment primarily.


  12. Examples says:

    What benchmarks are there for sustainable non polluting dairy farming?


  13. robertguyton says:

    No.1 Water-out cleaner than water-in.


  14. Richard says:

    Rather than reacting to comments on environmental/economic issues, NT dairy venture,this topic, it would be interesting to hear your views on the environmental/economic issues in general; farming and water in particular. I know you have some interesting ideas.
    Many of those who comment on this blog have been involved in farming in various ways, and/or are interested in farming and it’s impact.
    Ele, has a clear view on many issues, but she has the style of writing that provokes comment.
    “Give-it-a-go” Robert.
    The Green version of issues is not expressed well- your turn.


  15. gravedodger says:

    Great to see Ngai Tahu looking at real wealth creation as an extension of their growth record in managing the latest settlement moneys. They will be the best equipped Iwi to make real progress for their members, as they continue a market based growth strategy.
    Some of the property based areas of their settlement give cause for concern though as they are really in a very advantageous position. An organisation I am connected with recently successfully negotiated a purchase of an education assett N T had passed on and before the settlement was finalised, N T had an opportunity to re-enter the negotiations as a review of their previous rejection. The “Dutch Auction ” smell was very obvious. A signal of non interest should be just that and the second bite is nothing more than an admission that they need continual coddling in the real world of commercial property decision making.


  16. robertguyton says:

    Richard – thanks for the invitation to give it a go.
    Believing as you do, that the Green Party hasn’t expressed their views on these issues well means to me that you haven’t looked at their website, followed their blog or read their press releases very closely at all. Not that I expect that you would but if you had you’d be well versed in the details of the Green’s ideas around sustainable farming, the value of the environment and their relationship with Tangata Whenua.
    I can’t speak for them as I have no spokesperson role in the Green Party. I do have views about these issues and express them in all sorts of forums, including the letters to the editor column of our Southland paper and kanohi ki te kanohi with TRONT members and other Ngai Tahu no Murihiku. I could, if you were still interested in the thoughts of a layperson, describe my ideas but if not then I’ll just chime in when these issues are presented by commentators such as Ele.
    One thought I would offer is that ‘best practice’ as it is commonly accepted today, falls short of what is needed for a resiliant, healthy environment.
    If we are not actively improving the quality of our environment, we are failing in our responsibilities to the land that has nurtured us thus far. I suspect this thinking would not be foreign to nga taangata tuuturu o te moutere nei.


  17. Richard says:

    GD, the sale of Crown property to NT is fair and open. The Crown offers a property to NT at a price set by the Crown. NT has 30days to make a decision- not long. If NT declines the offer, the property goes on the open market at the same price as originally offered. If there are no takers, the Crown might lower the price to get a sale, but it is still on the open market. In the case you quote, it could have been NT Property who declined at first but then perhaps a marae had an interest later when the price was dropped.
    The system is quite fair and transparent. Some years ago it was not. NT was offered Cherry farm north of Dunedin for approx $4.5ml. It was declined. Some months later a consortium lead by the late Howard Paterson purchased the property from the Crown, privately, for approx $450,000.


  18. JC says:

    Whats missing from this Ngai Tahu story is the ongoing saga of the ETS and how it impacts on landuse. NT owns forests for which it has a one time exemption to paying about $20,000 per hectare in ETS costs if it changes the use of that forestry land.

    That means it has almost an economic imperative to change the land use whilst it can.. effectively thats $20,000 per ha in saved ETS that can go toward development of another land use.

    “Highest and best use” of land is a useful mantra because it encourages people to seriously consider the options, but it can be taken too far.. for example, what were the historic reasons for that land being planted in trees and do those reasons still persist? Can low rainfall Canterbury and its rivers support more large scale dairying well into the future?, I don’t know, but what the article points out is the anomaly of NT opposing such large scale developments in the recent past.. were its objections reasonable, and could these apply to its own proposals?

    NT is not a free agent in making this decision, its a corporation with thousands of shareholders.. and such corporations (like Landcorp) don’t have that great a track record in agriculture here in NZ, and its acting under the whip of the ETS to change landuse to maximise its one off exemption.

    Dairying may well be the highest and best use for NT but on a large scale not necessarily for the region.



  19. jane manawatu says:

    aori and lied about who they were and I have been reclaiming the wakapapa and now I am ashamed to be kai tahu


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