Call for unity at Howl of a Protest

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Dairy farmer Willy Leferink

‘‘Farmers need to stick together, work together and help each other along,’’ says dairy farmer Willy Leferink.

Mr Leferink, speaking at the recent Howl of a Protest in Ashburton, said farmers were sick and tired of all the regulations and needed a change where farmers would make a difference.

The Howl of a Protest draws a crowd in Ashburton.

‘‘The ink is not even dry on the Canterbury Water Management Strategy,’’ he said, and changes were already afoot.

‘‘We as rural communities don’t get listened to,’’ he said.

‘‘We need to stick together, work together and help each other along cos we are sick and tired of working our arses off and not getting valued.’’

Mr Leferink was one of three speakers to talk at the Ashburton event which drew in hundreds of supporters and surprised organisers.

Ashburton protest organiser Jodan Townshend (left) and speaker Jamie McFadden share a laugh at the Howl of a Protest.

Ashburton protest organiser Jodan Townshend was blown away by the number of people who turned out to support the peaceful protest in Ashburton.

‘‘It’s very big … we’ve got a lot of support.

‘‘It’s just brilliant to see.’’

Hundreds of supporters turned out to the event at the Ashburton Domain.

Utes and tractors were lined up along West Street (the main road through Ashburton), along Walnut Avenue and parked up in the railway yard opposite the Ashburton Domain.

O’Brien siblings (from left) Leah, 10, Jethro, 6, and Frankie, 4, of Pendarves, showing their support for farmers.

Supporters came in all shapes and sizes, ages and stages.

They included rural and urban residents alike including people in businesses who flowed on the footpath to show their support with placards as the procession drove past.

Ritchie Bruce, of Staveley

Ritchie Bruce, of Staveley, was also there and said the lack of consultation was impacting on the rural community.

‘‘I’m here because I disprove of the way the Government is pushing through legislation which is not only stupid but it’s ill-conceived and not practical.’’

‘‘It’s dividing the community… we’ve got to realise we’ve got to work together.’’

He cited river control, habitats for native species using science and the recent announcement of three waters authorities over a whole nation as ‘‘ridiculous’’.

‘‘Those in control have little grasp of reality, I think,’’ he said.

Supporting the cause … Keigan Lafferty, 23, Jake Pulham, 17, and Will Wilson, 17, of Townshend Agricultural Contracting Ltd at the protest to support the industry, and their futures.

Farmer Ian Mackenzie, of Eiffelton, who was already publicly vocal about his opposition to rate rises and taxes in general, was also among the crowd.

He wanted to hear the sentiment of people he represented as an Environment Canterbury councillor.

Robbie Shefford, left, was one of the popular speakers at the Howl of a Protest in Ashburton.

Speakers at the protest were Mid Canterbury farmers David Ward and Willy Leferink, contractor Robbie Shefford, as well as North Canterbury farmer Jamie McFadden, who read the Groundswell NZ national statement.

Mr Ward said New Zealand is one of the world’s most efficient producers of food on a carbon emission basis. It was known worldwide but ‘‘we can do better, we will do better’’ but without the enforced myriad of rules and regulations being pushed on farmers.

The ute tax was ‘‘mean and spiteful … picking on a group of people who have to have this vehicle for their use’’, he said.

Ellen Jones, (from left) Tori Cheals and Jen Bothwell, of Southbridge, along with goat Jeffrey, 2, and three canine friends attended the Ashburton protest to support the farming community.
Peter Livingstone, of Ashburton, shows his support.