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.

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