New Chair says get ready for change

Hamish McFarlane, was elected as the new Chair of the Orari Temuka Opihi Pareora water zone (OTOP) Water Zone Committee in July 2018, taking over from John Talbot who oversaw the committee’s mahi (work) with the community to develop water management recommendations.

Hamish McFarlane, OTOP Zone ManagerHere’s what Hamish has to say about the OTOP Water Zone. 

With an increased focus on environmental impacts, huge change is coming to the agricultural sector and our community.

We need to manage that change to move quickly, but in a sustainable way for our whānau, businesses and the environment.  It is clear how much work needs to be done by the diverse feedback we receive as a committee – our recommendations go too far for some and not far enough for others.

As I have heard a few times during this process - if everyone is equally unhappy then maybe we have got it about right!  Joking aside - it’s critical we get the waka (as in the plan for managing fresh water in OTOP) pointing in the right direction with the correct framework wrapped around it to see results quickly as a community.

Recognising on-farm environmental risks

This means buy-in from our local councils and our people - whether they be urban or rural.  We need to drive the uptake of quality Farm Environment Plans (FEPs) hard.  These are the vehicles to deliver change in the agri-sector by reducing the impact on the environment in a real way. 

FEPs need to be comprehensive, encompassing and well-managed.  On top of this, our cities and towns have to source water and land in a sustainable way that complements other efforts within the zone. 

The recommendations allow room for industry to follow its nose - as long as it meets the expectations of the people.  Catchment Groups will have their time in the sun over the next few years - there are many things to achieve that cannot be legislated through the planning process. 

Hamish's background

Hamish McFarlane is the owner-manager of McFarlane Agriculture, a diverse and intensive cropping and horticultural operation which relies on sensible water management. 

Hamish’s whakapapa includes Ngāi Tahu and Scottish ancestors.  He has been a member of the Orari Flow Allocation steering group, the Orari Rangitata steering group, and the Orari Water Society and maintains strong working relationships with these groups, the rūnanga and other interest groups.