25 May 2020

Government announces $500,000 drought relief for Northland, north Waikato

5:54 pm on 25 May 2020

The government has just announced relief funding for drought-stricken farmers in north Waikato and Northland.

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Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

Minister of Agriculture Damien O'Connor said $500,000 would be shared between the two regions.

The money would be given to local mayoral drought relief funds to hand out and could be used for the purchase and delivery of feed supplies.

The minister received a letter on Monday from the mayors of Hauraki, Waikato and Thames-Coromandel districts seeking assistance with feed and cartage costs for farmers.

Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor speaks outside the Hastings District Council chambers, announcing $500,000 to help farmers make their way through the serious drought.

Damien O'Connor. Photo: RNZ / Tom Kitchin

O'Connor said the government was committed and was working through the process of getting the money to north Waikato and Northland.

He said the relief finding was similar to what was given out in the Hawke's Bay last week.

"We are aware of the dry conditions and we have been working on options but we have waited until the mayors gave us an indication of which is the best way to help."

He said the government had traditionally gone through mayoral relief funds where there were co-ordinated efforts and this seemed to be the case.

"We will leave it to people on the ground to specify how best to distribute that and it is far better to do that than come up with a complex regime from Wellington that often misses the mark.

"We leave some flexibility with the money allocated but for the most part it helps with the transportation or the cost of the feed," he said.

O'Connor said the money would be available by the end of the week.

'Government stepping up and helping out'

Hauraki District Mayor Toby Adams said anything was better than nothing and the districts would take what they could get.

He said no decision on how the money would be split between Northland and North Waikato had yet been made but he wanted more of it to go south.

"Northland's had a suck at the sav, let's see if Waikato can get a bigger share, so we will see how he likes that, but we would like $300,000 and that will go a long way to help us out."

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Toby Adams. Photo: Toby Adams supplied

Adams said the letter to the minister from the three mayors had worked.

"He's gone in there and given the old cookie jar a shake and out popped half-a-mil and split between Waikato and Northland and we will take what we can get."

He was immensely pleased, he said.

"This government - love them or hate them, they are stepping up and helping out where they can and where it is needed.

"It is just good to hear that the government knows that the farming sector is in just the need as the rest of the businesses."

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