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New Zealand’s Food Story: The Pukekohe Hub

Prepared for Horticulture New Zealand

Horticulture is one of the success stories of New Zealand’s primary industries. In 2017, the industry generated $5.68 billion in value. Export revenue has grown nearly 50% in five years, illustrating the trust the world places in New Zealand-grown food, and the country’s ability to meet that demand.

But the industry cannot rest. New Zealand faces opportunities with a growing population and the need to grow fresh produce. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Auckland, and its surrounding rural land. The population is set to rise to 2.3 million by 2043, straining natural resources and infrastructure. And growers are feeling that pressure.

The Pukekohe growing hub straddles the Auckland and Waikato District boundaries, and it is key to sustaining the fresh food supply to the country’s largest city. The squeeze on prime growing land in the Pukekohe hub, access to water, and the tensions between the existing industry and new neighbourhoods all mean a more considered and concerted approach to planning is needed. It is the right time to start the conversation about New Zealand’s sustainable food supply with a focus on a growing area experiencing change. 

Our economic analysis suggests that, over the next 25 years, the Pukekohe hub could face constrained horticulture production. If left unchecked, less production could result in lost economic value, higher prices for customers, and job losses for the industry itself and the sectors it supports. 

The value the Pukekohe hub provides is not just monetary. By using the Treasury’s Living Standards Framework, we have outlined the Social, Human and Natural values that make this area special. At the same time, we have also described the constraints and issues the hub is experiencing.

The challenges to ensuring the Pukekohe hub remains a bulwark of New Zealand’s food supply are not small. Some run up against current planning and policy settings. Success requires central and local government to work with the industry to best protect and enhance this natural asset, and sustainable business models.


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