Nothing says rural discontent better than a howling dog and so when Trev the Huntaway got his moment in the spotlight, he let rip.
There he was, head of the parade on the back of a classic Kingswood HQ ute, his master Dean Bayley of Roto-o-Rangi behind the wheel, participating in A Howl of a Protest as only a true hard working farm dog can do.
Two hours later Trev, named after Fred Dagg and the six Trevs, hoarse from two and a half loops around the town centre, slept like a baby on the hay bale while Dean and his mates quenched their thirst in the Five Stags Leamington Tavern.
Protest organiser Bruce Wallis said he could not believe how successful the protest had been, saying it had been more fun than the Christmas parade.
About 150 vehicles, 50 tractors, 50 utes and an assortment of hay balers, harvesters and cars, set out from AgrowQuip in Hautapu at 12.10pm, or joined the protest in town 10 minutes later, to thunderous support from bystanders.
“The highlight for me would have been the lady I saw. She would have been close to 80 years old, cheering every tractor, every ute and every vehicle down the main street.
“We didn’t want to annoy people. We didn’t want to gridlock Cambridge so we let traffic through where we could,” said Bruce.
Former world champion amateur golfer Phil Tataurangi, who was brought up in rural King Country, joined the parade outside the Town Clock.
The decision to have a Cambridge protest was made only two days before and to get such a big response was brilliant, said Bruce.
“A big thanks to the farmers and all the tradies and all the people of Cambridge who supported us.
“It’s a start, we’ve got to keep the foot on the pedal now. We need to do something like this again.
“Obviously, we know the climate is changing but I don’t think agriculture has had the affect they’re saying it is having.”
A Howl of a Protest was organised by Groundswell NZ, which describes itself as a grassroots rural movement.
They called industry support people, tradesmen, contractors and councils to join farmers and growers for the protests around the country.
Bruce said they all agreed there needed to be changes.
“But it’s the rate of change we’re objecting to. For our size New Zealand is already doing a lot. Now we’re facing the most stringent regulations in the world, and it must stop,” he said.
Meanwhile in Te Awamutu it was gridlock down Alexandra Street.
Hundreds gathered at the old Bunnings site in Arawata Street for the protest.
Organiser Lee Smith said she wasn’t at all surprised by the number of people that came out to show their support as she had been fielding calls from people all week.
She heard “not only from farmers and tradies who wanted to know more about the event but also from many in the local region who just wanted to learn more about what we are doing and how they can show their support.
“It’s something that not only farmers and tradies have issues with, but the greater community know the pressure on these industries already and with added changes will create greater challenges for them.”
Following a convoy out of Te Awamutu to Ōtorohanga those involved in the protest met up with others from Ōtorohanga and Te Kuiti regions to discuss the issues.
The Groundswell NZ claims and demands are:
- The National Policy Statement on Freshwater be scrapped.
- “Big-stick” regulations for Significant Natural Areas such as wetlands and landscapes are abandoned or re-written and funding redirected to proven systems.
- The National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity be scrapped.
- Seasonal rural workers from overseas be prioritised through MIQ.
- The NZ Emissions Trading Scheme be withdrawn.
- The Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill be lifted.
- The Government’s Clean Car Package rebate scheme be scrapped.