Protest rumbles through the south

Tractors drive through Yarrow St, in Invercargill, during the Howl of a Protest on Friday.

FARMERS, tradies and supporters were out in force on Friday as convoys of tractors and farm vehicles took part in the Howl of a Protest event.

Organised by Groundswell New Zealand, the protest was farmers fighting back against what it says are unworkable government regulations.

Hundreds of tractors rattled along Invercargill streets to take part in the nationwide protest.

Organiser Bruce Robertson estimated at least 500 people attended the protest with about 200 hundred tractors and utes being driven in the event.

“This is a response to the regulations that are unworkable and unmanageable,’’ he said.

“Farmers are finally standing for their rights to have their voice heard and ask for more responsibility from the government.”

Invercargill man Gus Johnston attended the protest with his daughter Sarah Blair-Edie from Birchwood Station and grandchildren Lex (5), Joe (3) and Florence (2).

“It is a lot of stress on the farmers. Something needs to change,’’ Mr Johnston said.

Winton farmer Liz Gill agreed — she also took her children Emma and Austin to the protest
because it was important they learned from a young age to fight for what they wanted, she said.

“We are farming for them, we are farming for their future. Of course we want to protect our environment but we want to do in the right way, not the way we’ve been told to do.”

In Te Anau, more than 120 utes, 40-plus tractors and 10 big trucks were driven from the Fiordland Community Events Centre through the town centre to Lions Park.

Te Anau organiser Kelly Wairau said there were country folk and townies all out protesting.

There were four helicopters and a fixed wing doing fly-overs, lots of dogs, four horses, prams, kids and people everywhere, she said.

“Rob Kempthorne, of Te Anau, read out Groundswell’s statement, and the dogs howled.

“There were just so many people who came up and thanked us for organising the rally,” Ms Wairau said.

“The thing that struck me was how many people said, about the farmers and tradies, it’s also about New Zealand’s democracy and freedom’.”