10 Nov 2011

Ngai Tahu defends dairy farming plans

7:51 am on 10 November 2011

South Island iwi Ngai Tahu is strongly defending its plan to convert two North Canterbury forests into dairy farms.

The tribe's property arm has begun developing three trial farms of 1000 cows each on 1200 hectares of land in Eyrewell, near Oxford.

The full-scale operation would convert the Balmoral and Eyrewell forests to 16,000 hectares of dairy operations.

At a recent election forum in Dunedin for Te Tai Tonga electorate, most of the candidates expressed opposition to the iwi getting involved in dairy farming.

Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu's chairperson Mark Solomon says the iwi's own members are quite sceptical and are sure to stop the project unless it can show the farms are fully sustainable, with no negative effect on waterways.

He says the political candidates do not have all the facts and there are best practice models for dairy operations which will meet the iwi's values.