Labour leader Jacinda Ardern unshaken by Morrinsville farming protest

  • 19/09/2017

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says she wasn't shaken by the Morrinsville farming protesters.

On Monday, around 500 farmers gathered in Morrinsville, Ms Ardern's hometown, to rally against Labour and Greens' proposed water and pollution charges.

Appearing on the AM Show on Tuesday Ms Ardern said the protest was an angry one "by the sounds of it and some of the signs I've seen", but she wasn't shaken.

Ms Ardern said many of protesters weren't even from the area.

"I'm not sure everyone was actually from Morrinsville," she told host Duncan Garner.

"But still, I pledge that I will sit down with those affected - not many of those at the protest will be, because the Waikato is not really an irrigated area, but I will still sit down with those sectors."

Labour plans to charge commercial users between one and two cents per 1000 litres of water. Ms Ardern was unable to tell Garner how many farmers would be affected and how much it would cost them, blaming a lack of up-to-date information.

'Pretty communist'

The protest was criticised after a farmer held up a sign calling Ms Ardern a "pretty communist." Former Prime Minister Helen Clark tweeted that the sign is "misogynist" and the protest was "climate change denial".

Craig Sinclair, a farmer from Tauwhare near Morrinsville, was the man behind the sign.

When asked what the sign meant he told Newshub: "Sort of getting a bit socialistic. She's getting a bit socialistic. Wants to take stuff off people."

He says he is "concerned" about a Labour-led Government, and if Labour is elected "a few people will start to learn about basic economics".

But Ms Ardern says she wasn't shaken by the anger against her.

"No, the first place I was booed when I was in politics was at a Fed Farmers meeting in Matamata," she said.

"I know there is a real strength of feeling around politics generally and I know my politics hasn't always sat alongside theirs."

On Monday, she said there isn't an rural/urban divide in New Zealand and Labour's plans have plenty of support, including from farmers.

"I know that there are plenty of farmers who are environmentalists and want to see us clean up our rivers," she said.