29 Nov 2023

Free fencing convoy heads to RRT farmers' event in Wellsford

2:20 pm on 29 November 2023
A Rapid Relief Team convoy heads towards Wellsford for a Farmers Community Connect event to help flood-affected farmers in November 2023.

A Rapid Relief Team convoy heads towards Wellsford for a Farmers Community Connect event to help flood-affected farmers in November 2023. Photo: Rapid Relief Team / Supplied

A charity donating truckloads of free farm fencing hopes to bring "mighty big smiles" to storm-hit farmers in the upper North Island.

Around 300 farmers are in line to receive a bundle of fence posts to help restore their farms hit this year by adverse weather events.

The convoy of eight trucks filled with 90km worth of wooden fence posts left Pōkeno in north Waikato early on Wednesday morning, headed for Auckland and then Wellsford to make the drop-off.

The donation mission was organised by Rapid Relief Team (RRT), a charity started by the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church nearly a decade ago.

The charity had been busy on the East Coast this year helping farmers in Hawke's Bay, Te Tai Rāwhiti and Wairoa on their long and continued recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle.

RRT New Zealand director Danny Blampied told First Up their mission was about community, compassion and support.

"We look out for events where there's homeless people, people suffering through various natural disasters - and [Cyclone] Gabrielle was one of those situations.

"We've done a lot in the farmers' zone for a while, supporting them while they get back on their feet after that natural disaster."

He said the cyclone and the Auckland Anniversary floods had a huge impact on the regions - and he hoped the $1500 donated fencing bundle for each of the 300 farmers might help them out.

"Many of the farmers.. had a lot of slips, a lot of flooding (and) extensive damage across their farms," he said.

"We just wanted to give them a token so we can actually encourage them to get off farm and come and talk to like-minded farmers.

"A lot of them have had a lot of mental health stress since the storms, financial pressure, and we just think it's a great way to come talk to people - (to) realise there's some hope, realise there's people that care about them.

"Fencing was a great way of doing that - and it meets a need. It's expensive for them to re-erect their fences and they walk away with a mighty big smile on their faces."

He said the response shows many are still recovering from recent wild weather events.

"We've got farmers coming from as far as Thames up to Wellsford, and from Kaitaia down to Wellsford, which is quite remarkable - and I guess it shows the level of need."

The charity will also hold a community event on Thursday, where there will be a barbecue lunch, and veterinary, financial and mental health support services.

Since February, it had donated $1.4 million worth of fencing materials to more than 1000 farmers.

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