One of the last remaining blocks of highly productive (class 2) land
The proposed subdivision at Tubbs Farm (details in article above) would eliminate one of the last remaining large blocks of highly productive (class 2) land in the Far North – an essential but finite resource.
A soil expert, Ian Hanmore, reports that “Class 2 land is some of the best and most productive land we have in the district”. Equivalent productive land is found in Pukekohe and Bombay near Auckland, for example.(1)
However, our district has a very limited amount of class 1 and 2 highly productive land. The Far North District Council (FNDC) estimates that less than 3% of our district area is class 1 or 2.(2) The pale green areas in Fig.1 below indicate class 2 land in the Far North. Much of this class 2 agricultural land has already been lost to subdivision and housing – it has not been adequately protected by council policies and plans.
Fig.1. Less than 3% of land in Far North District is Class 1 & 2 highly productive land
Land Use Capability (LUC) mapping by Landcare Research has categorised land into
8 classes, based on their suitability for agriculture. Classes 1 - 8 are shown below.
The best land is in classes 1, 2 and 3. The worst land is class 8.
Loss of highly productive land
Ian Hanmore has examined the Tubbs Farm proposal for Vision Kerikeri and concluded that “Without any doubt, the proposed subdivision at this location would have a major adverse effect - loss of the productive use of highly versatile soils”.
Fig.2. Highly productive Class 2 land at Tubbs Farm (Landcare Research data)
Ian reported that this subdivision would be contrary to key purposes stated in the RMA, namely: to sustain the potential of natural/physical resources to meet the needs of future generations, and to safeguard the life-supporting capacity of soil. “Class 2 land is a strictly finite natural resource which should not be lost to housing”, Ian concluded.
Community Group Vision Kerikeri (VKK) fully recognises the need for more housing, but it must be appropriate development in suitable locations. Kerikeri has alternative sites on lower quality land, with better options for transport connectivity, which are much more suitable for housing than the Tubbs Farm site.
Protecting our remaining high quality land
FNDC has acknowledged the pressing need to protect our remaining productive land. When commenting on the government’s draft National Policy Statement on highly productive land in 2019, FNDC said -
“Kerikeri has converted large areas of horticulture land into residential and rural lifestyle activities over the last 20 years. Therefore it is vital to protect this remaining finite resource and other rural land that is highly productive.”
VKK agrees that our remaining areas of highly productive land must be protected, as a matter of urgency. The soon-to-be-released Proposed District Plan needs to protect all remaining large blocks of highly productive land in our District, by re-zoning or adopting a special ‘layer’ in the Plan.
Tubbs farm should be Horticulture Zone in new District Plan
Unfortunately, the existing draft District Plan indicates that Council planners aim to change Tubbs Farm zoning to Rural Lifestyle, an inappropriate zone for highly productive land. VKK recommended to FNDC last year that the class 2 land at Tubbs Farm should be included in the new Horticulture Zone. This would make sense, because the farm lies right next to the Horticulture Zone (Fig.3).
Fig.3. Tubbs farm lies next to new Horticulture Zone in draft District Plan
What you can do to help
If you want to help protect our remaining areas of highly productive land –
Write to the Chief Executive Officer of FNDC, Blair King (with cc to Vision Kerikeri and Councillors). Ask them to ensure that all the remaining significant parcels of highly productive land (parcels more than 10 or 15 hectares) will be given strong protection by zoning or a special ‘layer’ in the proposed District Plan.
Blair King, Chief Executive Officer FNDC, firstname.lastname@example.org
Vision Kerikeri, email@example.com
Mayor John Carter, firstname.lastname@example.org
Deputy Mayor Ann Court, email@example.com
Councillor David Clendon, firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Rachel Smith, Rachel.Smith@fndc.govt.nz
Councillor Kelly Stratford, email@example.com
Statement of evidence of Ian Hanmore (highly productive soil) for the Hearing by Commissioners on consent application by Neil Construction, June 2022
FNDC submission to MPI on proposed National Policy Statement on highly productive land, October 2019