The impact on Gisborne/Wairoa farmers of back-to-back flooding events in March this year is “heartbreaking,” said Federated Farmers CEO Terry Copeland in response to a report commissioned by Gisborne and Wairoa district councils.
The Gisborne and Wairoa Flood Recovery Assessment report is based on interviews undertaken in May by Federated Farmers with support from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, using funds from the Ministry for Primary Industries mayoral relief fund.
“Federated Farmers was more than happy to help with the Gisborne and Wairoa Flood Recovery Assessment Report by conducting interviews with 251 rural residents in Gisborne and Wairoa. The millions of dollars in damage suffered was heartbreaking and the results of the interviews indicate it will be a long recovery for many affected farmers,” said Copeland.
“It was pleasing that many farmers indicated they had support from family, staff, neighbours or Federated Farmers.”
“Adverse events are increasing, as we have seen in Gisborne/Wairoa and more recently Nelson and Golden Bay. In an adverse event Federated Farmers does not distinguish between members and non-members, we are here to help,” he said.
The first weather event was on March 23, 2022. A State of Emergency was declared across the Gisborne district with the MetService calling it Gisborne’s wettest March in 90 years.
Less than two weeks later ex-tropical Cyclone Fili brought more rain and high winds with flooding, landslides, erosion, and more damage to roads that hadn’t recovered from the previous event.
In some parts of Wairoa, rainfall was recorded at triple the average. In other areas, it was double, with a good portion of sites having March totals the highest on record.
The cumulative effect of the two events so close together has made the recovery journey “much more onerous” reads the report.
Across the 251 properties, the damage was estimated to be around $11 million. Of the flood-affected property owners interviewed, 151 were within Gisborne boundaries, with 100 located across Wairoa.
Nearly half the respondents felt they would have no insurance cover and it was estimated that of the damage caused, only 11.9 per cent would be met by insurance.
At the same time, 20 per cent of the affected properties were already expressing concerns for their long-term income. The report said this number may grow as the impacts of the event settle in.
“We know that these properties alone were anticipating a $5m reduction in revenue from the impact of the event. With the need to fund uninsured losses on the back of reduced income, there will be challenging times ahead for the local community,” reads the report.
Of the 251 rural respondents, 71 per cent were on sheep and beef properties while 12 per cent owned lifestyle blocks. Sixty four per cent indicated they had moderate or greater damage to property.
Fencing, pasture, feed and crops all suffered damage. For example, 78 per cent of respondents said their fencing had been damaged, with 158 of these properties reporting an average 1.7km of fence loss.
Roughly half of all properties reported some form of pasture loss, loss or damage to internal tracks.
Most interviewees (88 per cent or 221) indicated that they had additional support, although 139 did not provide details on who provided this support.
The most common support network was family (79), followed by staff (7), neighbours (2), and Federated Farmers (1).
In addition, 29 properties asked for help from Enhanced Taskforce Green (ETFG) while a further 14 properties said they may want to be contacted later. Interestingly, some respondents were unsure if ETFG was applicable to their property while others said ETFG should priotise local marae and community organisations.
The interviewees were also asked if they required help from the Rural Support Trust (RST) with 3.2 per cent of properties indicating they would. Some respondents said RST had already been in touch while other respondents said they were aware of RST but didn’t need help.
The full report can be read here