Ngai Tahu have now formally announced their commitment to dairying, a policy I reported several months ago when privy to a presentation by a Ngai Tahu development person in a meeting in Wellington.
The intent is to develop three dairy farms, the three pilot farms will cover 300 ha. with 700 kau’s near the Eyrewell Forest, North Canterbury - actually, not near but in, as the trees have been cut down, and should be operating by 2013. If successful, this would open a further 6,000 and 9,000 ha of Ngai Tahu-owned forest at Balmoral for dairy expansion. The iwi-corporation can draw on 4 cubic metres/second of Waimakariri water for their agribusiness venture in this district.
Ngai Tahu have pledged to sustainable dairying, working in collaboration with Lincoln University who will provide technologies to measure leachates from the farms. While sustainable dairying is an unobtainable Utopia to many ecologists (and many tribal members are not supportive of this venture), it certainly provides a fascinating case study of the development and diffusion of new agricultural technologies and practices.
The internal debate is very interesting. Yes, many Ngai Tahu have been opposed to dairying through personal experiences - as kaitiaki - of the negative environmental effects. The latest issue of Te Karaka has some important viewpoints:
I know for a fact dairying has been a polluter because of the way people have farmed. And it has been encouraged by government in fact – the farming and the polluting. They’ve allowed cows in the rivers and effluent straight into waterways – and although there is compliance on paper, there is no compliance in reality.