The force of mother nature somewhat puts life in perspective. The post flood pictures coming out of Hawke’s Bay made me reflect on what’s important – it’s the health of the people. I spent 10-years in the Bay living on Omarunui Road, Puketapu, immediately behind the Tutaekuri stop bank. Watching three news on the Thursday, one of the many houses shown was our old house, it had been totaled and the recent orchard plantings had all been uprooted and washed away. My wife and I exchanged looks and then started wondering, were our old neighbours safe as we’d had no reply from our texts to them? Thankfully in the next clip we saw George out and about, he was then interviewed commenting that ‘he was on his old bike today as he didn’t want get his new electric one dirty’ and ‘that there was no need for an insurance assessor to waste their time visiting’. We both breathed a huge sigh of relief and smiled!
George is someone that has had a large impact on my life, not only did he help me master running a vineyard in the most cost-effective way possible, he also epitomised the kiwi farming ethic, hard-working, genuine and willing to give new approaches a go providing there was a purpose and flexibility in how the change could be achieved. For much of the work I now undertake with Council’s and government I still reflect upon ‘what George would have said to me’ if I bumped into him at the mailbox in the morning?
Some of our current decision-makers seem to have forgotten about the importance of the people. Knowing your people is key to successful policy initiatives and any associated regulation. Some of the new environmental regulations potentially facing our rural communities, in my opinion, are not hitting the ‘people mark’. Hence some of the current pushback. To be clear I’m not saying don’t do anything, I’m saying perhaps we need to reflect and change tack? For example, will taxing the farm greenhouse gas emissions of extensive farm systems actually make a difference given there’s nothing they can currently do to reduce their emissions apart from plant up the farm and exit? It doesn’t make sense given the potential effect this will have on the people?
However, there are also regulations in the pipeline, such as Freshwater Farm Plans, that have the potential to hit the mark, so I hope they don’t get caught up in some of the current crossfire. Developing farm specific mitigations that directly relate to a farms impact makes much sense to me… there’s a clear cause and effect and flexibility to find the right solution. I think George would approve?
Apologies for the rant but we all have events that happen in our lives that make us reflect, the recent events in Hawke’s Bay being one of these for me.