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20 January 2023

Wairarapa farmers and growers affected by Cyclone Hale are invited to ask for help if they need it.

Up to $80,000 has been released by the Government to the East Coast Rural Support Trust to help with the recovery in the Wairarapa, from the considerable damage caused by Cyclone Hale last week.

This follows the announcement of $100,000 to help co-ordinate relief efforts in the Tairāwhiti region.

The trust’s Wairarapa branch is already taking the lead, working their way around affected communities to assess the need.

Trust team members have met with Civil Defence, MPI, local councils, Federated Farmers and transport firms.

They plan to co-ordinate teams of local volunteers to help with fence and silt clearing and recovery next week.

While the funding won’t go directly to individual farmers for repairs or loss of income, the trust says it will help with co-ordinating community efforts to give practical help to farmers.

Other ways the trust is helping is by providing advocacy for farmers and growers with local councils, banks and insurers; one-on-one support to develop plans and map out current challenges; and lending solar fence units to help stock proof fences where power is limited.

The trust can also provide access to an independent insurance agent to help with insurance applications.

If you can help with the clean-up or would like assistance, please contact the trust at one of the numbers below.

Residents in hard-hit areas are also asked to check on neighbours including smaller holdings or newcomers to the area.

Cyclone Hale was classified as a medium-scale adverse event in the Tairāwhiti and extended to the Wairarapa after storm damage to the region’s eastern coastline, particularly Tora and Riversdale.

The classification unlocks assistance such as tax flexibility with Inland Revenue to help farming and forestry businesses even out income fluctuations.

Farmers and growers may have experienced land slips, flood debris and silt (rivers, pasture, fence lines), fallen trees, surface water over arable crops, bruised fruit due to high winds and ongoing loss of road access.

Masterton Mayor Gary Caffell welcomed the support on offer.

“It has not been an easy time for some rural people and it is important that they take advantage of the assistance that is available through the Rural Support Trust.

“I know people will already be helping each other out when they need it, and this assistance should provide further support after what has been a very wet spell followed by this cyclone.”

Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor acknowledged the stress the situation was adding to rural families.

“It’s important they receive the help they need to recover from this storm, which follows hard on the heels of other high rainfall events in recent months.”

Anyone in the affected areas who are not farmers and growers – small rural landowners and other rural residents – who need help are encouraged to phone Civil Defence at 0800 239 247.

The contacts for the Rural Support Trust are:

Sarah Donaldson (Area Coordinator)        021 504 089

Steve Thomson (Facilitator)  027 623 1699

John Booth (Facilitator)  027 442 7469

Lawrence Field (Trustee)  027 787 2521

Aidan Bichan (Trustee)  027 432 3410