Farmers, growers, tradies and their dogs are set to converge on Katikati today as part of a national “howl of protest”.
Groups in more than 50 towns and cities across New Zealand, from Invercargill to Kaitaia, will take part in the planned demonstrations aimed at sending a message to the government.
Their grievances are clear, with a rural groundswell focused on standing up for farmers, food producers, contractors, tradies and councils against what they say are unworkable rules and unjustified costs being thrust on them.
The Katikati protest, organised by the KKCando Concerned Ratepayers in conjunction with Groundswell NZ, is also an opportunity to “remind people of Katikati’s road congestion issue and our need here for a bypass,” says local coordinator Christina Humphreys.
“This is a nationwide protest against Jacinda Ardern and the Labour government’s proposed tax on diesel utes, tractors, trucks, etcetera, all in a bid for New Zealand to have all electric vehicles, which is not possible or practical.”
As well as the local road issue, there are seven key points that Groundswell NZ want to make clear.
The group wants the national policy statements on indigenous biodiversity and freshwater scrapped along with regulations for significant natural areas and wetlands.
“Attaining fresh water guidelines should be the jurisdiction of catchment groups in association with regional councils,” says Groundswell NZ’s Bryce McKenzie.
“The government regulations are a land grab, and private property rights must be protected.”
They also want the ‘ute tax’ to be withdrawn.
“There is no alternative electric vehicle,” adds Bryce, “and utes are essential to those economic heavy lifters – farmers, horticulturalists, industry support people and trademen. This is another financial burden.”
Another request is that overseas seasonal workers be prioritised through MIQ in order to help support rural contractors and the horticultural, dairy and fruit picking industries, while climate change is another issue that Bryce says is unworkable.
“These sectors are doing the heavy lifting for the New Zealand economy, now more than ever, and the mental strain of continuous long hours and product loss in becoming unbearable.
“Large areas of farmland are being incentivised into pine. This policy is a significant cost burden borne by the world’s most emissions-efficient farmers.”
Starting at noon on Friday, July 16, the Katikati protest has a Hilux leading a convoy coming from the south side of town, with another convoy coming from the Kauri Point northern end of town.
After proceeding slowly along Main Street Katikati, the two convoys will converge on Moore Park.
Following a short speech from Groundswell there will be a ‘dog’s howl’.
“If the dogs don’t howl or bark we will toot horns,” says Christina, who sent a map of the route to participants that includes an image of Winston Churchill saying “we shall never surrender”.
“We hope this large, nationwide protest will show government that we are unhappy people and not impressed about losing our democracy and being legislated from our farms and businesses.”
The KKCando Concerned Ratepayers are inviting locals to support the protest, and all dogs must be on leads.
“New Zealand is a great place to live, and it is worth fighting for.” says Christina.