April 18, 2023

A growing need: Urban Farming in Tāmaki Makaurau requires policy support

Like pumpkins ready for the autumn harvest, community gardens have been popping up across Tāmaki Makaurau for years. Yet, there has been little traction to scale these initiatives to cover more land, putting more fresh and nutritious produce into the bellies of whānau across the region.

With funding from Auckland Council’s Regional Environment and Natural Heritage Fund, Healthy Families Waitākere engaged consultancy Place Creative to undertake a feasibility study to identify potential sites for food production at scale in West Auckland.

The study’s findings pointed to challenges within the Auckland Unitary Plan. Land use pressures in West Auckland’s suburbs, alongside the rules which govern how land is used means food production at scale is not permitted or requires consent and expert input with costs between $10,000 and $100,000 depending on the location.

Healthy Families Waitākere Systems Innovator, Michele Eickstaedt, continues. 

“This study found no clear path for local people wanting to unlock land and practice food production at scale in West Auckland, largely due to the concept of an ‘urban farm’ not being specifically defined within the Auckland Unitary Plan. There is also a mismatch between the Unitary Plan and more recent Council plans such as Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan whose goal “Ngā Kai” has a specific action area to “Increase supply and demand for local, seasonal and low carbon food.”

There is a clear opportunity for Auckland Council to deliver on policy goals around local food growing and climate mitigation. The study’s findings point to two solutions.

  • Develop a framework to encourage and enable urban farming under the current Unitary Plan rules, helping people understand what is involved in practical terms.
  • Looking to the future, the Unitary Plan needs to be reframed to define and enable urban farming activities during the next round of Unitary Plan amendments in 2025.

These changes need to be led by Auckland Council and supported by community partners, including those involved in this study.

Going forward, Healthy Families Waitākere will be discussing the findings with key partners to make this transformational systems change a reality.’

Read the report in full here.