Farming (New Zealand)
Where can I find information about farming in New Zealand?
Entry last updated: 19/12/19
New Zealand has a long history of farming and agriculture. Farming is a huge part of the New Zealand economy and brings in a lot of money every year, but it also has a large impact on the environment.
History of farming
Before European settlers arrived in Aotearoa New Zealand, Māori had their own agriculture. When Europeans arrived, they bought with them introduced plants and animals which was one of the factors that changed the way New Zealanders farm.
Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.
- Select the Section called Settled Landscape.
- Go to Changing the Landscape.
- Choose Te mahi kai - food production economics.
There's lots of information here about Māori farming and food production, including the adaptions that were made when bringing food and animals from Polynesia to Aotearoa New Zealand.
Tips: Don't forget to check out the rest of the headings under Changing the Landscape - they all cover important aspects of farming in New Zealand.
NZHistory is a great website for information about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we go all the way down the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.
- Select Topics at the top of the page.
- Go to Topics A-Z.
- Scroll down the list and choose F, then Farming.
- Here you can find out about different farming events in history, as well as images and media related to farming.
Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.
The New Zealand Electronic Text Center has digitised a book about the Farmer in New Zealand. The link will take you to the table of contents, and once you are there, click on the plus next to the title 'The Farmer in New Zealand'. This will let you see the chapter headings. Check out chapter one, The Māori Farmer. There are also chapters on Early settlement and farming, gold wool and wheat, and the farming industry in New Zealand.
Note: This book was written in 1941 so you won't find any modern information, but it's great to look at for historical info!
NZ On Screen is the online showcase of NZ television, film, music video and web series. Documentaries here are an excellent source of information.
- Enter the keywords 'Farming in New Zealand' into the search bar at the top of the page.
- Select the link called Farming in New Zealand. This is a documentary on New Zealand farming from 1952, a great look at the diversity of farming in our past.
Farming and the environment
Farming makes a large impact on the environment in lots of different ways. Here you can find information about issues like water use, pollution, sustainability, and climate change.
Check out the Ministry for the Environment's website. There's heaps here about the environment in New Zealand.
- Enter the keyword 'farming' into the search bar.
- This will bring up a range of links with information related to Farming eg Looking after water on the land.
This website is for New Zealand school students and teachers and covers lots of different topics including farming.
- Enter the keyword 'farming' into the search bar at the top of the page.
- Select the link called Healthy farms, healthy fish.
Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.
Te Ara has a section on sustainable farming that will be useful to look at.
- Go to the Settled Landscape section.
- Select Changing the Landscape.
- Look at the story Farming and the environment.
- There are other sections related to the impact that farming has on the environment in this section eg Soil erosion and conservation, and Water quality.
Tip: It is a really good idea to have a look at the External links and sources page on any story on Te Ara, as this will lead you onto more good quality websites.
Greenpeace has a section about climate change which includes information about farming in New Zealand.
- Select the tab called What we do at the top of the page.
- Choose Climate change.
- Go to Farming.
This EPIC database has a lot of information about the environment. It is not specific to New Zealand, but you will find heaps of resources here. Some of the issues and topics covered are Sustainable Agriculture, Land and Soil Pollution, and Climate Change.
Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.
Farming and the economy
For a great overview of how farming works in the economy, have a look at Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand again.
- From the homepage, select the section New Zealand in Brief
- Go to Economy
- This page talks about all the different kinds of economy in New Zealand, including farming and agriculture. Check out the pages on Agricultural production and The Māori economy in particular.
This is the official government website for statistics collected in the New Zealand census that is taken every five years.
To find statistics about farming and agriculture in New Zealand:
- Go the to the Statistics tab and select the Statistics by Topic heading.
- Have a look at Agriculture.
Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have a .govt meaning they are from a government organisation. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.
Have a look at the Ministry for Primary Industries website, there's lots of information here about farming in the New Zealand economy.
- Select Growing and Harvesting.
- Browse through the different options to find your topic eg Livestock and animal care.
Check out your local library for these books, or ask your librarian for more suggestions.
Development of Farming 1860-1900 by Kevin Boon.
The Farming of New Zealand, the People and the Land by Gordon McLauchlan.
Dairy Nation: the Story of Dairy Farming in New Zealand by Nicola McCloy.
SCIS no: 1935664