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Hundreds of tractors in water protest

10:00 AEST Thu Sep 19 2013
About 500 growers turned up to protest against water restrictions being imposed by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council
Growers protest against water restrictions (TVNZ)

A tractor or two wouldn't be out of place on a Hawke's Bay property, but 300 can turn a few heads.

About 500 growers on-board their 300 tractors did just that on Wednesday, descending on a paddock near Hastings to protest about water restrictions imposed by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council.

Tractors of all shapes and sizes lined the paddock, some carrying signs saying "HBRC out of control" and "vote for change".

Protest organisers Growers Action Group (GAG) said the growers are after one thing: "sensible management of water".

GAG says the council is incapable of managing the area's water resources and wants to see new council members, a new chair and the sacking of some staff.

It says a ban on irrigation in Twyford when water levels reach a certain point, which were hit during the recent drought, has resulted in thousands of dead trees and crops.

"If you have a water ban in a pastoral area you can move stock or bring in supplementary feed but in the case of a tree you lose the whole capital asset and all future investment," GAG spokesman John Bostock told NZ Newswire.

The council says it's important that the region doesn't deplete water resources in times when levels are low. It's land and water management strategy states urges growers to look at collective interest to make the best use of available water.

But Mr Bostock says they're not after all the water - they just want it to be managed better.

"This council's been very arrogant and i believe at last they're starting to pay attention to us and understand that we're very serious and that we're not going away," he said.

Council elections will take place on October 12.