We note that Ngai Tahu is wanting a piece of the Milky Way action. Thats great. Diversification is good. And the goal to own and operate a profitable environmentally friendly business is laudable and wise.
However, Ngai Tahu objected strongly to the proposal to build a mega dairy farm in the McKenzie basin. It could be seen that they use the the Resource management act to hobble other entrepreneurs so that they can get a running start on their own businesses.
Only a year ago they werent too fussed about dairying - and were all talk about " cultural values and sacred water"
Ngai Tahu supports water being made available to provide security of supply for landowners but is concerned at the possible conversion to dairying. Almost without exception, the conversion over recent years of dry land farms to dairying has brought with it a host of adverse environmental effects and has resulted in the significant degradation in the quality of our rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands. This has impacted seriously on the cultural health of waterways and has resulted in the further loss of access by tangata whenua to mahinga kai sites and resources. Needless to say, Ngai Tahu is strongly opposed to any repetition of this situation in the upper Waitaki/Te Manahuna/Mackenzie Basin Before Ngai Tahu will be prepared to depart from this position, it will need to be convinced that suitable measures can be implemented at both the on-farm and catchment level that will be capable of avoiding and/or mitigating the site-specific and cumulative adverse effects that will arise as a result of conversion to dairying.
How times have changed.
Ngai Tahu needs to be very careful. Yes it is a significant player in the South Island economy- mainly because of the smart white fellas they employed like Tony Sewell.
We wish them well with the Dairying venture. They have 35,000 ha forestry land that is probably not returning much in the way of value. So dairying is definitely a smart move. But what it is highlighting is that Ngai Tahu is in danger of looking hypocritical, chastising others about their methods then a few months later signalling that they are seriously looking at the same large scale operations.
We are also interested to know why they have not entered dairying with a joint venture partner. Its a complex business and it would seem to make sense to tap into the expertise NZ operators have built up rather than go it alone.
No doubt we will find out the answers to that in due course.