«Introduction This paper considers productivist/post-productivist conceptualisations of agriculture in the light of changing New Zealand attitudes ...»
From early days pastoral agriculture was supported and sustained by government policy and government funded incentives and research (Brooking, Hodge & Wood 2002). Between 1920 and the mid-1980s the government assisted the sustained development and intensification of a pastoral "grasslands revolution" by funding agricultural science and advisory services, and providing a host of development incentives and price support mechanisms. There was rapid and widespread up-take of new technologies such as application of fertilisers, aerial topdressing, and the development of milking machinery. Increased agricultural production In Geoff Kearsley and Blair Fitzharris (eds.) 2004. Glimpses of a Gaian World, Essays in Honour of Peter Holland, pp.151-170. School of Scoial Science, University of Otago, Dunedin was equated with progress and virtue, and the men of agriculture (scientists, policy makers and farmers) were upheld as heroes (Brooking, Hodge & Wood 2002).
New Zealand pastoral agriculture was based on the destruction of native grassland and forest for conversion to a landscape of northern hemisphere plants and animals (Crosby 1986;
Holland, O'Connor and Wearing 2002; O'Connor 1993; Roche 2002; Starr & Lochhead 2002;
Wynn 2002). Between 1840 and 1920 the area of indigenous forest was reduced by more than half from approximately 140,000 sq kms to about 67,000 sq kms (Memon and Wilson 1993).
By the 1950s and 1960s, most of New Zealand's indigenous wildlife had disappeared from inhabited parts of the country, and in many areas transformation of the landscape from indigenous forest to farmland was so complete that little but vestiges remained (M.f.E. 1997, 9.34-35; Park 1995; 2002).
New Zealand Society and its changing environmental relations From the beginning of European settlement, New Zealand society depended substantially on the wealth of its rural economy for export income and the health of its domestic economy.
But the nature and extent of this dependence has altered over time. At the beginning of the 20th century, meat, wool and dairy products made up more than two thirds of New Zealand‟s exports; by the end of the century, they made up only a third (Statistics New Zealand 2000, 379-380). In 1950, manufacturing provided just over 1% of export income but had climbed to 29% by the end of the century (Statistics New Zealand 2000, 380). The nature of income from rural enterprise had also changed by the end of the century. In particular, tourism, based largely on the attractions of the country‟s indigenous landscapes, became a major source of income and rural change. In 1960 the number of overseas visitors was less than 50,000. By the end of the century it was more than 1.5 million and receipts from tourism formed a significant proportion of the national income. In 1999 estimated foreign exchange earnings from tourism amounted to $3.6 billion compared with $4.4 billion for the dairy industry (Statistics New Zealand 2000).
Social and economic changes were reflected in landuse changes, from a landscape that was overwhelmingly dominated by pastoralism, to one which, particularly near cities and in In Geoff Kearsley and Blair Fitzharris (eds.) 2004. Glimpses of a Gaian World, Essays in Honour of Peter Holland, pp.151-170. School of Scoial Science, University of Otago, Dunedin favoured parts of the country, was much more diversified. There were shifts in the type of farming, in the nature and structure of agricultural enterprise, and in the nature of rural society. Journeaux (1996) noted that between 1980 and 1995 the area in sheep and beef farms declined 18% (from 7.7 million hectares to 6.3 million hectares) while the area in dairying rose 56% (1.25 million to 1.95 million hectares) and the area in forestry 111% (from.87 million to 1.85 million hectares). Moran (1997) noted that between 1976 and 1990 regional diversification into horticulture brought about a reduction in average farm size in parts of the country suitable for horticulture, while the average farm size remained stable or increased in remoter parts of the country under pastoral farming. Part-time farms, hobby farms and ruralresidential life-style blocks also became a significant feature of the countryside. In 1999, 29% of landholding units recorded as holding livestock and/or engaging in grain/arable cropping were under 10ha in size (MAF 2003). Forty six percent of these small holdings were located within Auckland, Waikato and Canterbury regional council areas.
Other writers noted parallel changes in the structure of rural society (Joseph, 1999; Liepins, 1997; Press and Newell, 1994; Scott, Park and Cocklin, 2000). Rural society became less homogeneous, with a smaller proportion of people directly involved in agriculture. Further studies have shown that pastoral farming itself has diversified and changed. Among sheep and beef farmers, for example, there was on-farm and off-farm diversification including small rural processing industries, forestry, farm home-stays and other tourism enterprises (Johnsen, 1999).
Through the 19th and most of the 20th century, mainstream societal attitudes supported the development of agriculture and clearance of indigenous forest. Agriculture was perceived as New Zealand's economic mainstay and politically "farmers were kings" (Roche, Johnston and Le Heron 1992). However, by the beginning of the 1970s environmental issues had gained widespread recognition within New Zealand society as a whole, and the environmental movement began to enjoy significant political support. The Values Party, established in 1972, articulated a philosophy that was counter to the productivist ethic and performed well in the elections of 1972 and 1975 (Buhrs & Bartlett 1993). As evidence mounted of the environmental damage caused by resource exploitation, major conflicts occurred between In Geoff Kearsley and Blair Fitzharris (eds.) 2004. Glimpses of a Gaian World, Essays in Honour of Peter Holland, pp.151-170. School of Scoial Science, University of Otago, Dunedin rural resource users and environmentalists and recreationists who were largely urban based.
In 1969 the government proposed to raise the level of Lake Manapouri, one of the South Island's most beautiful lakes, for electricity purposes. The Save Manapouri campaign was mounted and received such widespread public support that in 1972 the government retracted and agreed to maintain the Lake at its natural level (Wheen 2002). There was conflict between environmentalists and the New Zealand Forest Service, in relation to the harvesting of indigenous forest (Memon and Wilson 1993); conflict between recreationists and farmers over the use of water from recreationally and scenically significant rivers (e.g. the Motu and Rakaia), and conflict between mining companies and local residents about the impact of mining on the landscape, and the value of mining for local communities.
In addition to the growth of the environmental movement in the 1970s and early 1980s, there were fundamental changes to New Zealand's terms of trade as world commodity prices fell for bulk agricultural products (Le Heron 1991; Roche, Johnston & Le Heron 1992; Cloke and Le Heron 1994; Le Heron 1996). Political cleavages developed between urban and rural communities as farmers continued to receive supplementary payments, subsidies, and incentives in the face of a growing balance of payments problem. Where the state had played a major role in the development of natural resources (including farmland and forestry) upto the 1980s, it came to be viewed as a hindrance to economic growth and development. There was a demand for a reduced role of government (Buhrs and Bartlett 1993; Memon 1993). The catch cry, particularly from the urban business community, was 'less government in business and more business in government'. The changes came to a head in 1985 when the 4th Labour government won the election and replaced the rurally-based National Party. Within its first term, the new government established a far-reaching series of economic changes designed to deregulate the New Zealand economy. They included the removal of wage and price controls, removal of import controls, removal of almost all subsidies to the farm sector, flotation of the dollar, and removal of restrictions on currency flows (Cloke and Le Heron 1994). These economic changes were followed in its second term by a raft of legislative changes that expressed and consolidated a changed relationship to the environment.
In Geoff Kearsley and Blair Fitzharris (eds.) 2004. Glimpses of a Gaian World, Essays in Honour of Peter Holland, pp.151-170. School of Scoial Science, University of Otago, Dunedin The economic changes brought in by the 4th Labour government had a profound impact on the farming sector (Cloke 1996; Cloke and Le Heron 1994; Fairweather 1987; Frengley and Johnston 1992; Johnsen 1999; Smith and Saunders 1996; Walker and Bell 1994). Most particularly, it forced farmers to become more efficient in terms of production (Walker and Bell 1994); that is, it increased the productivist pressure on farmers. But as noted by Le Heron (Cloke 1996; Cloke, Le Heron & Roche 1990; Le Heron 1991) the most severe impacts on farming came not from the government policies directly related to agriculture (the removal of farm subsidies) but from economy-wide policies, particularly the floating of the currency and a consequential rise in interest rates. The influence of this indirect tier of government policy on productivist farming is an important point to note, and will be discussed again near the end of the chapter.
The post-1985 liberalisation of the economy and the enactment of new environmental legislation reflected the philosophies of environmentalists who wanted greater accountability for the use of rural resources, and economic reformists who wanted to see a reduced role for government in terms of rural development and agricultural protectionism (Buhrs and Bartlett 1993; Cloke and Le Heron 1994; Le Heron 1991; Memon 1993; Roche, Johnston & Le Heron 1992). Two of the most significant pieces of legislation were the Conservation Act 1987 and the Resource Management Act 1991. The Conservation Act established the Department of Conservation in place of non-commercial arms of the former New Zealand Forest Service, Lands and Survey Department, and Wildlife Division of the Internal Affairs Department. It enabled an integrated and consolidated administration of all Crown-owned native habitat and wildlife for conservation purposes. Similarly the Resource Management Act introduced an integrated approach to management of land, air, water and coastal sea by repealing over 50 previous statutes. It coincided with changes to the form of local and regional government that provided an institutional structure to enable the implementation of the Resource Management Act1. The effect of the Resource Management Act is to enable use, development and protection of natural and physical resources provided that there are no significant detrimental environmental effects. Where farmers had previously experienced little legislative hindrance The Local Government Amendment Act 1989 was drafted in parallel with the Resource Management Act in the full recognition and intention of creating local and regional government structures that would be capable of implementing the provisions of the Resource Management Act (Memon, 1993).
In Geoff Kearsley and Blair Fitzharris (eds.) 2004. Glimpses of a Gaian World, Essays in Honour of Peter Holland, pp.151-170. School of Scoial Science, University of Otago, Dunedin to their activities, the Resource Management Act 1991 introduced provisions that were more relevant to rural than urban areas. It included a requirement that, "persons exercising functions and powers under [the Act]…shall recognise and provide for” the preservation of the natural character of the coastal environment, wetlands, lakes and rivers and their margins;
protection of outstanding natural features and landscapes; and protection of areas of significant indigenous vegetation and significant habitats of indigenous fauna. (NZ Government 1991). These provisions were a reflection of the political power of predominantly urban policy makers who were strongly influenced by overseas environmental discourses of the time (Memon 1993; Palmer 1990; 1995) Agricultural attitudes toward indigenous forest and wildlife Full-time pastoral farming remains the most widespread type of farming in New Zealand despite significant shifts away from pastoralism towards alternative land uses such as forestry and horticulture. While horticultural farms comprised 14,172ha in 2000, pastoral farms comprised 15.5 million ha (MAF 2003). Pastoral farmers remain key figures in most rural communities and their attitudes, values and management priorities continue to shape the rural landscape to a major extent. The published literature indicates that the majority of pastoral farmers remain strongly productivist in focus but show evidence of changing attitudes about indigenous habitat and the natural environment.
The 2002 Annual Report of the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust reported that it had 1,620 registered covenants protecting 56,000ha of indigenous habitat, and that, “our work represents only a tiny fraction of the need and the opportunity for conservation on private land, the limiting factor being funding [to cover the legal costs of covenanting]” (QEII 2002). National Trust covenants apply to land in private ownership and are entirely voluntary. Landowners receive no compensation apart from assistance with the legal costs of covenanting and the cost of fencing. Thus covenants are a reflection of strong commitment by individual landowners to protect indigenous vegetation.