Gov’t acts to protect highly productive land

In a move of major significance to Hawke’s Bay, the Government has just released a National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land (NPS-HPL), aiming to enhance protection for our most productive land, providing security for both our domestic food supply and primary exports.

Its key features include:

  • Enhanced protection for Aotearoa New Zealand’s most productive land;
  • Councils required to identify, map, and manage highly productive land;
  • Subdivision for housing on highly-productive land could still be possible in very limited circumstances.

Making the announcement here in Hawke's Bay, Environment Minister David Parker commented:

“The National Policy Statement will greatly improve how we protect highly-productive land from inappropriate subdivision, use and development. We need to house our people and to feed them too. Our cities and towns need to grow but not at the expense of the land that’s best suited to grow our food. The NPS-HPL will help protect our best growing areas…”

Agriculture and Trade Minister Damien O’Connor noted: “Over the last 20 years, about 35,000 hectares of our highly productive land has been carved up for urban or rural residential development, while 170,000 hectares of this land has been converted to lifestyle blocks.”

Hawke’s Bay has seen more than its share of versatile soils consumed by such conversion. Our local Save the Plains group has been lobbying councils and the Government on this threat to valuable soils for several years.

Spokesman Richard Gaddum commented:

"Although not as watertight as we would like, it is a step in the right direction and it will be interesting to see how individual councils in NZ interpret this NPS HPL to protect our valuable soils for future generations. Hopefully this document has enough legal teeth to stop councils that are tempted to step out of line in approving any development on fertile soils.

"We as a group are thrilled with the timely release of this document and this is exactly what we have been fighting for over the last three plus years. 

“I think it's significant that this document was released here in HB, recognition, I believe, of all the hard work we have been doing in this area. After all we are the only recognised entity in NZ that has been fighting to save the fertile soils and give them a voice.

"This doesn't mean that we now rest on our laurels, but rather keep vigilant as I don't believe the fight will ever be over." 

The NPS-HPL will be transitioned into the two Acts replacing the Resource Management Act – the Spatial Planning Act (SPA) and the Natural and Built Environments Act (NBA).

The National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land 2022 is available here: