Minister for Agriculture and Rural Communities Damien O’Connor today announced that the damage wrought by former Cyclone Gita in Taranaki and parts of the Tasman district meets the criteria for medium-scale adverse event classification.
The classification triggers funding for recovery efforts across the primary sector including activity coordination and events delivered through the Rural Support Trusts.
“These two regions bore the brunt of Cyclone Gita,” says Mr O’Connor.
“Our farmers and growers in Taranaki were suffering from drought including a severe lack of feed for the last few months and then coastal, southern and eastern Taranaki in particular was hit hard by the storm.
“Intense winds caused significant damage. Thousands of trees are down and the wind has collapsed sheds and damaged roofs. Pockets of rural areas are still without power while repairs are made and the network needs to be rebuilt in some areas.”
The local Rural Advisory Group has been working alongside Civil Defence and Emergency Management to visit affected farms and build up a picture of the impact and path to recovery. The Fonterra Emergency Response Team has been helping clear fallen trees as a priority.
“A lot of work is needed to make farms safe, rebuild infrastructure, and clean-up the mess. MPI is working with the Ministry of Social Development to confirm if Enhanced Task Force Green teams will be set up to help with some of the clean-up.”
In the Tasman region, Civil Defence and Emergency Management, the local Rural Support Trust and Federated Farmers have been working together to assess welfare needs and impacts for farmers and growers in the worst-affected areas of Motueka Valley, Riwaka and Marahau.
“Travelling around Tasman immediately after the cyclone the early impacts were clear, but a week later there’s more damage everywhere you look.
“In this area it was flooding from the storm, as much as wind damage,” says Mr O’Connor. “Silt and debris have been washed into farm and orchard land, and orchardists are working to urgently clear silt away from apple and other production crops.”
While the closure of Takaka Hill SH60 added to the challenges, Fonterra was able to continue to collect milk and to operate its Takaka plant, so dairy farms could get through the immediate aftermath.
The Minister of Revenue Stuart Nash has welcomed the activation of Inland Revenue’s income equalisation discretions for this event, and Inland Revenue will also consider hardship situations. Affected farmers should contact their accountant in the first instance.
Recovery measures that could be made available for farming families, on top of hardship assistance that is routinely available, include:
- Recovery coordination
- Pastoral support
- Community and technology transfer events
- Flexibility with the Income Equalisation Scheme
- Enhanced Task Force Green (subject to Minister for Social Development approval)
- Rural Assistance Payments if needed by the community (subject to Minister for Social Development approval)