Initial Hill Country Futures interview findings

// Research

As part of the first phase of the Hill Country Futures programme, 298 people have been talked to in 170 interviews and six focus group discussions between July 2019 and March 2020.

hill country programme banner

Read the interview findings (PDF, 1.87 MB)

The research team want to understand what farmers, decision makers and influencers think are the best outcomes for the future of hill country farming and how they can work together to shape these better long-term outcomes. From these meetings, they now have a very unique and in-depth bank of information that they are continuing to analyse.

About the Hill Country Futures Programme

The interview work described in this report is part of the Hill Country Futures programme; a five-year programme that will end in 2022. It is co-funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), PGG Wrightson Seeds and Seed Force. The four work areas in the Hill Country Futures Programme are given below and the interview work presented in this report informs areas 1 and 4.

  1. Stakeholder interviews: Developing an evaluation system for hill country resilience.
  2. Biodiversity in forage landscapes.
  3. Developing landscape classification tools.
  4. Communities to market: Identifying and sharing the stories of hill country farmers to show case our sector.

What matters the most to New Zealand sheep and beef farmers?

By and large, hill country farmers enjoy their lifestyle because of the freedom and autonomy that farming and being on their farm provides.  Alongside these positive feelings we also heard of some of the challenges in hill country farming at the moment. 

Here are some of the “hot topics” that emerged from the interviews which you can read more about in the full report:

  • A pride and passion for farming.
  • Farmers are used to change.
  • The trend of land-use change, from farmland to forestry, is moving at an alarming pace.
  • Increasing land prices are seen as a risk for the hill country farming sector.
  • The amount of new regulations is confusing and overwhelming.
  • The media and public perception of farming seems too negative and unfair.
  • Most farmers want to increase the amount of native birds and plants on their farm.
  • Rural communities are important.
  • We don’t all use the same jargon.