Wed, Apr 12, 2023 5:00 AM
A diverse rural background of travelling the top of the south extensively carting general freight, flour and distributing a large amount of stock feed, farming Large White Pigs and Charolais Cattle on a family Spring Grove farm as well as running his own farm in Tapawera for the past thirty years is what gives Stuart Bryant, Deputy Mayor of Tasman District Council and Lakes / Murchison ward councillor, the experience to give rural issues a voice at the local council table.
It’s this background full of variety and interaction with a wide range of rural people that first exposed Stuart to widespread rural issues. “It didn’t matter where I went, if I was carting stock feed or at the A+P show people always wanted to chat about rural issues, especially farmers and growers who were seeking change, I liked mixing and mingling with the people and was interested in the issues.” says Stuart.
Encouraged to try and help with the rural issues, Stuart thought that the June 1999 council by-election may be a way that he could help “I wasn’t actually standing to get elected; I was standing to encourage the community voting to really think about what type of person they wanted to represent them, I never thought I would get elected!” He exclaims. “I possibly hadn’t thought it through in great detail either.” Stuart has held the Lakes / Murchison ward councillor seat for almost 24 years now.
There has been no shortage of challenges facing the primary sector with a range of ongoing issues such as rivers, roads, access, biodiversity, environment, social and physical isolation, and medical access. Add to these the bigger ones coming from Government such as He Waka Eke Noa, the Resource Management Act and 3 Waters and it’s clear to see that these rural issues need a good advocate.
Stuart acknowledges that it’s tough going out there. “There’s a lot going on and no doubt it’s going to be challenging for another few years. There are a lot of rural issues that can get lost in the urban pot if someone isn’t speaking up for them” he explains “We have opportunities coming up for the rural community to come together and hear from council about recent changes and what is still to come.” Topics at the up & coming events will be around things such as Freshwater, Wetlands, SNA’s and Biodiversity Protection, Pricing Agricultural Emissions, Nitrogen use and stock exclusion. Stuart encourages all rural property owners to attend.
Regarding local changes to our Resource Management Act Stuart explains that the TDC is working through this process with the Nelson City Council and that it is going to take some time to work through it. Time frames are unclear which is frustrating. The good news is that Stuart has knowledge on how the Resource Management Act works and is encouraged by this to see it through. He also points out that by being a landowner himself any changes also apply to his own land, stock, water, and farming operations. “By being a farmer myself I know what’s workable and what’s not, so I really speak up.” Stuart says.
Rural areas are reliant on agriculture as a source of livelihood, the New Zealand economy is reliant on the future of our food systems. We need people like Stuart, finding workable solutions to rural issues. “I enjoy living rurally with a lack of neighbours and fresh air and I will continue this term to make sure rural issues don’t get forgotten.” Stuart states.