Thursday 30 June 2016 12:36 PM
NZ government extends drought classification for eastern South Island
By Tina Morrison
June 30 (BusinessDesk) - The government has extended a drought classification for the eastern South Island until the end of the year, meaning the area will have officially been in drought for almost two years, the longest period for such a category.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy announced the extension of the February 2015 medium-scale drought classification at a meeting with local farmers in North Canterbury today.
By extending the classification, the government releases extra funding of as much as $88,000 for drought recovery coordination and the five rural support trusts in the area, taking total government funding since February last year to $538,000. Farmers will also be able to apply for rural assistance payments through Work and Income until Feb. 28, 2017, and the Inland Revenue Department can offer flexible timing for tax payments to those affected.
"North Canterbury remains the worst affected area with rainfall only around 50 to 60 percent of the long-term average," Guy said in a statement. "Soil moisture remains significantly drier than normal and some Canterbury wells show groundwater at record low levels."
Guy said the government is also keeping a close eye on parts of the east coast of the North Island that are still "very dry", including the Wairarapa, parts of Hawke's Bay and the East Coast regions.
Over the longer term, Guy said the Hurunui Water Project in Canterbury can begin planning and construction following a High Court ruling earlier this year. The project has received a total of $2.6 million of government funding.