City residents should get used to living in apartments and stop the demand for housing at the edge of New Zealand's largest cities in a bid to protect productive farmland, says a top farming boss.
Conor English, chief executive of Federated Farmers New Zealand, says the greed for prime land to build housing on is threatening the farming industry.
In particular he has pointed the finger at Auckland, which has been expanding relentlessly for years.
English said it had to stop.
"When you look at the figures over the last 30 years we've lost 30% of our productive land to either the conservation estate or to urban sprawl," he said.
"As a nation we've got to be careful about doing that because we haven't got another 30% we can lose."
English said city dwellers need to get used to the idea of living in apartments to help curb such urban sprawl. And it is a view shared by Auckland's chief planner.
"The Auckland plan is based on going up rather than out, and so it anticipates an extra million people living in Auckland in 30 years time, and the Auckland plan is worked on the basis that 60% to 70% of those will be living in the existing urban footprint," said Auckland's chief planning officer Dr Roger Blakeley.
But people on the street told ONE News a house is the property they dream of, in order to have more space and privacy in a big city.
"The first thing people ask me is the backyard, 'how big's the backyard?' It's the dream," said Steve Brennan from Ray White Real Estate.