Dear Auntie Thistledown

It’s good news if you are planning on avoiding He Waka because she’s gone burger.

In Home Block6 Minutes

Q: I have looked into what He Waka Eke Noa is going to cost me and, no thank you, I’d really rather not. I know we are all supposed to be in the same waka and all. But, what if I don’t want to be in a waka at all? Do you know of any ways to avoid He Waka?

With fond regards,

Waka Jumper



Dear WJ,

It’s good news if you are planning on avoiding He Waka because she’s gone burger. He Waka was a “partnership” between the government, the agricultural sector and iwi to recommend an “alternative agricultural emissions scheme”. This being the kind of partnership where 1/3rd of the partners threaten the other 2/3rds into doing the whole science fair project. And, “alternative agricultural emissions scheme” being something other than tipping New Zealand agriculture face-first into the existing Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) via a processor levy.

The He Waka partnership has made its recommendations and now we are on to the Government’s response which they seem to be calling Te Tatai Utu o nga Tukunga Ahuwhenua. Or “Pricing Agricultural Emissions”.

This isn’t law, it is in the consultation stage. So I advise you not to get too carried away in your tax evasions, I mean, avoidance plans because things can change. The Government has a history of haggling like a donkey trader. They come in hard and fast with their worst offer so that they can get agreement with a much-less drastic, but still terrible offer later on, when you are done crying.

Once Beef + Lamb NZ and Tangata Whenua are done explaining why this will disproportionately affect their people, then we will likely get some kind of concession. Perhaps an awkward hug and an agreement to keep the revenue gouging below 21%. Or they let us count the trees next to the creek as sequestration. We shall see.

However, if you have time for a little brainstorming then page 19 of the 94- page consultation document is where you want to go looking for loopholes. That’s the bit where it says the levy must be paid by GST-registered businesses with more than 550 stock units (sheep, cattle and deer) or more than 50 dairy cattle. Or applying more than 40 tonnes of synthetic nitrogen. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Just go with it. Empty your paddocks, fill your freezer, plant some trees and get a nice cushy job in town. It’s not much of a loophole, but sometimes the best revenge is to let your opponent have exactly what they think they want.

Sneak under the 550su threshold by messing around with the definition of a stock unit. No one really knows what a stock unit is… least of all the suits in Wellington. Gaze upon my 549 gigantic, triplet-bearing ewes, for the bargain price of one stock unit a piece. Keep your white cows off on a distant hillside, now they are also 1su.

Mess with your species. Goats are invisible to the government. Why not use a goat as a terminal sire over your ewes? Now you have geeps (or maybe shoats?). If the government can’t fathom emissions pricing for goats, then they’ll never see geeps coming. Or farm ponies, I hear they taste like venison. If you construct a dressage arena, you can source them directly from the wild. Or branch into swine, poultry, llamas, alpacas, rabbits or wallabies which are carbon neutral on account of being fictional animals.

Divide your farm into 550su enterprises under each family member’s name. Do you have the kind of family where this wouldn’t descend into a fist fight? Well la de da, I hope you are all too busy smiling at each other in your Brady Bunch squares to see the accountancy fees coming. Once my family got their roots into your business, you’d never get rid of them.

That reminds me, I must ring my sister.

Love, Aunty Thistledown

  • Cali Thistledown lives on a farm where all the gates are tied together with baling twine and broken dreams. While she rarely knows what day it is, she has a rolodex of experts to call on to get the info you need. She’s Kiwi agriculture’s agony aunt.
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