Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Farmers as kaitiaki...

While we're on the topic of freshwater.

It would be easy to lump all farming in the same boat, point the finger and say that all farming was causing the decline in our freshwater quality and quantity in New Zealand. 

That's simply not true, and not fair on the farming community. My family come from a farming background, and most New Zealanders have a connection to farming in some way.  I know there are many many farmers trying to make a living and do the right thing, and they are to be celebrated.

I met one this weekend, at the excellent Reel Earth Environmental Film Festival in Palmerston North.  His name is Grant, but he is known as River Dog.  Grant is the star of a film made by his son James, and James' film partner Oscar Daniel Hunter.

River Dog is the story of a farmer trying to do the right thing by planting his river banks with native trees and desperately trying to keep the neighbours' cattle off the river, since they (the cattle) are destroying the quality of the water and the native vegetation.  Despite having the rules on his side, the council take no action, so Grant and his farmdogs spend their days chasing the cattle off his 'patch' of the river.  River Dog went on to win three awards including best New Zealand film.
We know that fencing and planting our rivers can protect them from pollution. We should be supporting farmers like Grant, not ignoring them!

Farmers have a tangible connection to the land, they themselves consider themselves stewards or guardians. That is a hefty responsibility, and one that should be celebrated when such stewardship is undertaken, but they should be made responsible when the environment is ignored, or worse, exploited.

Grant Muir, Wairarapa farmer, and River Dog. Photo: James Muir.
Oh and if you haven't seen River Dog  yet - make sure you do, it's highly recommended viewing.


  1. That sounds excellent and I'd like to see the film as soon as I can find it. Is it available? Do I have to go to a festival/theatre?
    If there are copies available, I will organise a showing for the Southland Regional councillors.

  2. I'm keen to talk to James (the filmmaker) about a screening tour, but for now you could go to the River Dog website (http://www.riverdogfilm.com) and contact him directly. A friend of mine who works for Horizons has ordered a copy to show her colleagues, it's a great idea to show as many people as possible.