Howl of a Protest

I know ‘cos I was there – A Personal Account By Andi Cockroft

With no Farmer’s Dog Howl events scheduled for Wellington, I made the 100km trip north over the Remutaka’s to Masterton.

“Arrive 2 hours early,” I was told. “You’ll need plenty of time to get into the event before the rush starts!” But at Masterton there was just one ute with about 8 sheep on the back to greet me.

Nothing happened for over an hour, so I began to think the Masterton event might turn into a damp squib. Meanwhile notices of overflowing events were coming in from Otago to Auckland.

But pretty canny lot these Wairarapa folks. About ½ hour from the midday off, they started flooding in. Initially in dribs and drabs, then in large numbers – but where were the big toys – those workhorse tractors? Well, they started arriving even later – probably as they had to break off from their work to attend.

By now, SH2 through Masterton was at a standstill. One cop arrived to help direct traffic, but not to great effect but he did his best.

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Masterton traffic at a standstill

The carpark at the Farriers was full well before noon, and people were parked on verges, adjacent car parks, anywhere space could be found.

One guy in the ute in front had a very forthright opinion of our Prime Minister, reflected in his number plate

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An opinion on our Prime Minister?

But the event kicked off exactly at midday, with the reading of a script that apparently was to be read out to all 57 (?) simultaneous events. There was loud applause and cheering at several places during the speech, and you could feel the vitality of the assembled crowd in their support of this Groundswell campaign.

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Speeches began at midday

The other thing to notice is that this was very definitely a family affair. Probably had to be as in the middle of school holidays. But even more noticeable was the energy and exuberance of the kids there, and each and everyone had that rural rosy glow to their cheeks – such a contrast to those pasty faces you see on urban kids who spend far too much time indoors and not outside as they ought.

Our event kicked off on schedule at 12:30, yet by 1 pm I had still to move, such was the crowd.


Bit of a queue

The rest was pretty boring. By about 1:15 pm I started to move, but it remained stop-start driving for nearly the next hour just travelling the few Kms up Queen Street (the Masterton one).

My overall opinion? Although you could argue there are issues around things like water quality we want addressed and addressed urgently, this protest was all-encompassing many topics from the UTE tax, SNA, unworkable even impossible bureaucratic interference in grazing and planting, foreign buy-ups, conversion to forestry, government seizure of fish and game etc. The list goes on. Underlying all issues is the declining democracy, the reluctance of government to consult properly, to listen and heed what the people are saying.

Would I go again – absolutely! We need farmers and they need us.

A severley edited YouTube video (since it was very slow and boring) is at https://youtu.be/SHHj9KyqYRY

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8 Responses to Howl of a Protest

  1. A. Taylor says:

    I just happened to chance upon your newly posted article. I attended a protest but felt farmers missed the real guts of the issues, whether it be a tax on utes, freshwater regulations, ETS. The fundamental flaw underneath all is the dictatorial manner of government. Government shows a near total disdain for democracy which can be very dangerous if left unchecked by the electoral process.

  2. Honest Dave says:

    one great step towards getting rid of the horse featured dictator
    & her coven of fellow marxist travellers in 2023!!!!! It can’t come soon enough.

    THEN we have to get rid of MMP. Remember we were promised by Horse’s
    adviser ( H1) that we WOULD have a second referendum after 3 terms of MMP????

    IT NEVER HAPPENED. ANOTHER MARXIST LIE.

  3. Dave Rhodes says:

    No way can I support Farmers with “Dirty Dairying”, but there are many I know who take great pride in fencing waterways and keeping stock levels appropriate to their holdings.
    Voluntary plantings in many instances along riparian strips, and reducing synthetic fertiliser to a bare minimum. Indeed, more and more farmers are discovering the benefits of Organic Farming without any synthetic products at all – crops are commanding higher prices.
    Yet the protest is about far more than just polluted and reduced rivers and streams.
    As Andi says above, from the UTE tax, SNA, unworkable even impossible bureaucratic interference in grazing and planting, foreign buy-ups, conversion to forestry, government seizure of fish and game etc. Not to mention unworkable and impossible Climate Change policy that will do absolutely nothing for the climate, but will bankrupt New Zealand in the process – if the Government don’t send us into bankruptcy before then by printing truckloads more counterfeit money.
    This Government is out of control. No New Taxes – Yeh Right.

  4. Dave says:

    I think this rally was a call of like-minded people and the August rally will ask for the answers with an ultimatum which the farmers should give the Government. Maybe that should read -will give . The people of NZ have had enough and it is time for a change.
    Other countries can change their Governments so can we?

  5. Alan+Rennie says:

    Throw this in the mix and scare the hell out of this GOVT who want to flouridate all drinking water, I have seen crap plumbing fittings coming in from China for 10or so years, this is another disaster coming if flouridated water becomes the norm ???
    Fluoride is the most acidic and electron negative of all elements.
    It aggressively seeks out lead and dissolves it, especially in acidic,
    soft water. There is a custom of using pipes for electrical grounding.
    Many older houses are still grounded through water pipes.
    This accelerates lead corrosion and increases lead in drinking water.
    he proof is in the plumbing. Low-level lead contamination of water is widespread in homes, with brass tap fittings the most likely source.

  6. The Angry Angler says:

    Let’s just back track a little….dairy farmers have been given 20 years to sort out their appropriation and pollution of the public’s freshwater rivers and lakes, first with Dairy Clean Streams Accord in early 2000 and then its successor the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord in 2013. All nice voluntary initiatives paid for by Fonterra and levies from DairyNZ. Result – increasing pollution and icnreasing pats on the back on how well the corporate dairy industry is doing.

    Then Fonterra bung $20M to DOC to plant some trees alongside Canterbury streams – the ones that have little or no pollution and bugger me! The testing results show how little pollution they have in them.

    Then we have the endless hand-wringing nonsense from the dairy industry that “we all want fresh water, but…..(not if it involves me losing profit)”.

    And now, they’re moaning that thety have to stop polluting our rivers even though the ******* tax payer is being bilked for hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up THEIR mess.

    There are loads of great farmers out there, a lot of OK ones but a lot of diry dairying still in evidence and I see it almost daily when I go lowland fishing. If the latter were to internalise their costs of pollution NOT ONE OF THEM would still be in business.

    Those who irrigate and pollute should be in prison for the lasting and probably irreversible damage they have done

    • "Sparse Grey Hackle" says:

      I find much to agree with in “Angry Angler’s” comments.
      You are correct in saying “dairy farmers have been given 20 years to sort out their appropriation and pollution of the public’s freshwater rivers and lakes, first with Dairy Clean Streams Accord in early 2000 and then its successor the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord in 2013. All nice voluntary initiatives paid for by Fonterra and levies from DairyNZ. Result – increasing pollution and increasing pats on the back on how well the corporate dairy industry is doing.”
      If I may, I would add politicians and governments. Was it Labour which in 2017 election year promised to clean up rivers and streams. Four years later there is little to show for it.
      I dislike every time down here when I see in the low rainfall Mackenzie district, corporate dairy farms and irrigators over a kilometre long operating.
      The same reaction I have in driving through Canterbury. Who allowed this? John Key’s National government did with its expulsion of ECan. Did not Key say he wanted to greatly expand dairying to the maximum? Key and his environment minister Nick Smith have left a shameful legacy.
      “Angry Angler” said “There are loads of great farmers out there, a lot of OK ones but a lot of dirty dairying.”
      You are correct again. There are loads of good farmers but a few who are environmentally irresponsible. They need bringing to heel.
      This brings me to the point, the Groundswell was not just dairy farmers. I witnessed a local Groundswell gathering. Most were sheep and beef farmers. So do not “bag” all farmers.

  7. Carol Sawyer says:

    Great write-up Andi. What a fantastic day it was in New Zealand! I was in Gore, which was gridlocked. Even the downplaying news media ( Stuff in this case) wrote “”1100 utes, 600 tractors, 50 trucks and even horses and carts took part in the ‘Howl of a Protest’ in Gore, which took well over two hours to wind its way down the main street as working dogs barked and howled from the sidelines.” Gore has a population of less than 13,000.

    I have found that a number of people, particularly those overseas, didn’t really understand what it was about. I sourced this explanation written back in April by one of the organisers of the protest, Laurie Paterson of Gore, Southland:

    “Having answered the call to increase production numerous times by numerous governments for the good of everybody so we can live in a first world country, we are now looking at the impending criminalisation of farmers with the government’s top-down ‘we know everything’ approach.
    This approach relates to regulation, policing and enforcement with unnecessary costs, delays, complexity and red tape and the completely barmy one size fits all approach.
    GROUNDSWELL grew out of the Gore tractor protest led by Bryce McKenzie in response to the totally ridiculous winter grazing rules of crops having to be sown by November 1 (regardless of weather), pugging rules and no sowing of slopes over 10 degrees – the National Policy Statement on Freshwater. Two tractors set off and that swelled to 120 by the time we got to town.
    GROUNDSWELL now comprises dairy farmers, sheep and beef, arable, dairy grazing and significantly, people involved in farm support, all of whom are FOR improving freshwater and are dedicated environmentalists. There is not a redneck among them, just practical rural people.
    Meanwhile, the Pomahaka Catchment Group have proven that they could turn that river around from being the most degraded river in Otago seven years ago to today, where all readings are in the green and significantly the trend is down, achieved without punitive regulations, consents and cost.
    Since the tractor protest we have had a landslide of new regulations:- The National Policy Statement on Biodiversity; The Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill; new rules around Irrigation Schemes; the threat of Significant Natural Areas.
    All these are being thrust on farmers with no compensation but ongoing rates costs.
    There’s also the rules the IRD are bringing in for property sales, the Climate Change Commission unfairly targeting farming methane emissions and the new Drinking Water Standards legislation, nationalising NZ’s water and adding yet more cost to farmers.”

    Note.. since Laurie wrote the above, Jacinda has announced that utility vehicles (utes) will be taxed, which also unfairly penalises farmers. Electric cars are no use for farm work! The ‘ute tax’ really was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

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