• Enhanced Taskforce Green helps Central Hawke's Bay farmers with ongoing cyclone clean up

Enhanced Taskforce Green helps Central Hawke's Bay farmers with ongoing cyclone clean up

Eight Central Hawke’s Bay job seekers, along with two skilled supervisors, are helping local farmers clean up following the devastation and millions of dollars of damage caused to Central Hawke’s Bay farms by Cyclone Gabrielle nearly a year ago.

The local group have been employed through the Enhanced Taskforce Green national initiative, which is funded by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and a local collaboration between Mauri Oho, Rural Support Trust and Jobs in Central Hawke’s Bay.

The programme has been running for nine weeks so far in Central Hawke’s Bay and has already helped 13 farmers and landowners from Otāne to Pōrangahau and back to the ranges into Wakarara.

The team undertake various clean-up repairs at each property depending on the damage at no cost to the farmer. This includes fencing, maintenance repairs, silt clean-up and the removal of trees.

Willie Wilder, a sheep and beef farmer in Wallingford, who faced a lot of slips, lost 4.5km of fencing and faced severely compromised access after the cyclone had the crew helping him with fencing.

“It’s been a tough road and there’s still a lot to do,” says Wilder.

 “The support from the Mauri Oho crew over the past few days has been unreal.”

The programme also involves developing transferable skills for the workers, such as fencing and chainsaw work. It has just received another 12 weeks of MSD funding.

Mauri Oho, a local environmental services Trust, is managing the project working closely with the Rural Support Trust and Council’s cyclone team to help identify farmers they can offer support.

 One of the Mauri Oho team Daz Hingston says he enjoys being outdoors and getting back onto the land after previously working in an inside job.

“It’s awesome to come together as a group, to help farmers and give them a bit of support. We’re really getting into it and happy we can help for longer now.”

Mayor Alex Walker says that so much of the pain that our farming community have been through has been in isolation, away from the public eyes, and underestimated by many.

“Many visitors and agencies haven’t ventured much further than SH2 or even the Napier airport. They haven’t seen the extent of damage and stress that Cyclone Gabrielle has put on farms, farmers, their businesses and their families. But the teamwork of the Rural Support Trust, MSD, Mauri Oho and Jobs in CHB is providing an important confidence boost for our farmers.

“Teamwork is the key to our progress, quietly, sensitively and just getting on with the mahi and giving a small boost to our farmers. And the work crews are getting to spread their manaakitanga as well as learning new skills and bringing an income to their own families. Win, win.”

If you are a farmer, a grower or have community assets in Central Hawke’s Bay and would like help, please reach out to East Coast Rural Support Trust on 021 990 699 (Rosa Wyn-Harris) or 027 310 9725 (Nikki Henderson) or the Council’s recovery team on 06 857 8060.