Climate change, sustainability, and the future of farming are hot topics when it comes to some of the most important issues regarding rural Kiwis in next month's upcoming general election.
As the complexities of rural issues in New Zealand come to the forefront, it’s clear that there is a necessity to navigate the intersection of politics, farming, and conservation to pave the way for a more sustainable future.
A notable champion for rural New Zealand’s conservation, Green MP Eugenie Sage, who recently announced she will be retiring from politics at the conclusion of this election, brings a unique perspective to the discussion.
A central point of the conversation between Sage and REX host Dominic George revolved around the evolving influence of climate change on farming.
“Here in Otatahi, Christchurch, at the moment, very aware it feels like a summer day, not a spring day, just the El Nino, summer coming up, the likelihood of drought, and areas that have had potentially too much rain earlier this year," she said.
"So it is the changing climate and how we reduce our emissions and it is looking at continuing to improve the way we manage land so that water quality improves.”
Climate change not only affects farming but also brings to light the need for fostering sustainability in industries like wool.
"I think an organisation like Future Farmers encapsulates people seeing climate change as an opportunity rather than a threat and looking at how do we get a more sustainable regenerative regime however you define that."
When it comes to the economic realities of climate change and what that means for the next generation of farmers, Sage suggests the concept of green loans and depreciation tools as potential solutions. She acknowledges the role of initiatives such as the Land and Water Forum that aim to bridge disparate viewpoints and safeguard our clean, green reputation.
The conversation also touched on the issue of GMO crops, which could potentially help reduce emissions. However, Sage admitted she has concerns about this approach.
"If you introduce and do field release of genetically modified organisms that cuts right across our 100% pure, clean green Aotearoa."
As New Zealand moves forward in navigating its rural challenges, Sage emphasises the power of individual contributions and the need for regulations to protect clean water and reduce emissions.
But as Sage reminded Kiwis, “We have a really special country here in Aotearoa.” Let's continue to nurture it.
Listen to the full chat between Green MP Eugenie Sage and Dominic George above.