14 Oct 2023

'They've lost everything': Hawke's Bay growers treated to a feed and a fruit bin full of goods

5:48 pm on 14 October 2023
Hawke's Bay grower Paul Paynter.

Hawke's Bay grower Paul Paynter said an Evergreen Foundation-organised event held to support horticulturalists rebuilding after Cyclone Gabrielle had provided an important sense of community for those who had been doing it tough. Photo: RNZ / Lauren Crimp

Hawke's Bay growers have been treated to a small bit of respite from the tough task of rebuilding their livelihoods after Cyclone Gabrielle destroyed orchards throughout the region.

Around 130 horticulturalists rolled in to TUMU Timbers Hastings with utes and trailers on Friday - and rolled out having had a bite to eat and a catch up with others in the industry, laden with a fruit bin full of donated goods.

The event was put on by the Evergreen Foundation, TUMU Group's charitable arm, in a bid to spread some cheer amongst a group still doing it tough.

Grower Paul Paynter said it was an amazing support for those who were struggling.

"When you're down and out, the sense of community and the connection with people is really important.

"Great that they put this on, and super appreciative because we've got a couple of guys who've done it tough, so it's nice to bring them along here today."

A range of organisations including the Hawke's Bay Fruitgrowers' Association, Ministry for Primary Industries and mental health programme Mates4Life were parked up in a marquee, and sausages and burgers sizzled on the barbecue.

Everything from orchard equipment, toilet paper and a corn hole set to wine, beer and books filled the fruit bins that were strapped to trailers for growers to take home.

Hawke's Bay growers walked away from an Evergreen Foundation-organised event to help horticulturalists trying to rebuild after Cyclone Gabrielle with an apple bin full of donated goods.

Growers who attended the event walked away with an apple bin full of donated goods. Photo: RNZ / Lauren Crimp

New Zealand Apples and Pears chief executive Karen Morrish said it was heart-warming to see how much growers appreciated it.

"It's incredible, there's so many happy people that I think have been blown away, walking in to the tent today seeing that everything has been put on just for them.

"They've lost everything, and I think if this can put a smile on their face and spring in their step then we've definitely achieved what we wanted to achieve."

Evergreen Foundation executive officer Annabel Mason said the event was supported by businesses and its cyclone recovery fund, which has granted $2.5 million throughout Hawke's Bay, Wairoa and Tai Rāwhiti.

"The horticulture community in Hawke's Bay, Wairoa, Gisborne and Tai Rāwhiti, they need their hug as well," she said.

"Just some moral support to know that what they're doing is great, that they're valued, that they are an important industry within Hawke's Bay and that they are people, and we care about them."

Evergreen Foundation executive officer Annabel Masters.

Evergreen Foundation executive officer Annabel Mason said the event was designed to support growers by bringing them together. Photo: RNZ / Lauren Crimp

Mason wanted growers to feel a sense of connection - something that had been hard to come by since the cyclone.

"We're conscious that it's quite isolating when you're a grower, and it's your livelihood, and you live on that property.

"Every step is a hard step, we just feel like we want to get people all together to support them, to support their well-being."

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