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Minister assesses flood effects first-hand

October 30, 2005

Minister assesses flood effects first-hand

Maintaining the Gisborne region’s confidence after Labour Weekend flooding is the prime aim of a request to Government for clean-up and replanting packages.

A presentation made to Minister of Agriculture Jim Anderton in Gisborne today outlined an over $10m crop and wages loss. This includes a total farm gate value loss of $8.4m for squash, sweet corn, maize and broccoli, and a $2.4m loss in wages. The cost of land restoration and lost rent to landowners would also be significant.

Growers, processors and finance representatives highlighted the need for maintaining confidence in the region to ensure the many innovations with high-earning export potential could be realised.

One grower said he would have been out of business after Cyclone Bola had it not been for the Government’s assistance. From then, he had built his business and today employed 150 people. The tax now paid in one year was as much as the Bola handout. He assured Mr Anderton that the government assistance was worthwhile. “Please help the younger guys stay in business.

I wouldn’t be here without that help.” Minister of Maori Affairs Parekura Horomia said cropping provided far more jobs and a greater multiplier effect for the regional economy.

The presentation was followed by visits to about 20 cropping farmers, landowners and processors on badly-affected land at Tolaga Bay and Gisborne.

Mr Anderton said later that the flooding was a traumatic experience and of great significance for the individuals concerned.

He and Mr Horomia would be arguing the region’s case in Cabinet tomorrow to help provide confidence and continuing optimism in the region.

“The issue requires urgency,” Mr Anderton said. “People need to know what assistance could be available. If the Government doesn’t help, it will be difficult for people to continue. These industries are the cornerstone of New Zealand’s economy.” The Gisborne recovery team, led by John Clarke, is seeking a landowners’ clean-up package and growers’ replanting package similar to those provided by the Government after the Manawatu floods.

It also wants standard relief measures such as Enhanced Task Force Green, expected to start in Tolaga Bay in the next few days, and investigation funding for enhanced flood protection in the Tolaga bay area.

Recovery manager John Clarke said Mr Anderton’s visit had been hugely valuable.

“The success of it is due to the growers, landowners and processors who made themselves available to put our case to the Minister. That in itself signals the seriousness of what has happened and the downstream effects such an event can have on Gisborne. These effects will be far worse if the Government were to ignore our request for assistance.”

ENDS

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