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Rural issues starting to emerge

October 21, 2010


Rural issues starting to emerge

Social, emotional and financial issues are slowly starting to emerge, the Rural Recovery Group heard this week.

The Rural Recovery Group consists of representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), Fonterra, DairyNZ, Beef+Lamb NZ, Federated Farmers, Irrigation New Zealand, FMG (Rural Financial Services), North Canterbury Rural Support Trust, banks, Selwyn District Council and several other rural sector organisations set up to coordinate the rural recovery as part of the Civil Defence response to the September 4 Canterbury Earthquake.

At a meeting held at the Selwyn District Council in Rolleston, the group heard insurance representatives dealing with rural lifestylers and farmers were starting to feel like counsellors rather than assessors, as issues are starting to arise following the earthquake.

“We’re working with individuals to see what we can do to assist, as our representatives have built up their relationships with our clients over time,” FMG
Project Manager Advice and Insurance Lorraine Wagg said.

People with “barely habitable” homes were starting to get frustrated about not seeing anyone yet from the Earthquake Commission, North Canterbury Rural Support Trust spokesman Grant McFadden said.

Farmers had been downplaying damage, particularly as their counterparts in Southland and the North Island were struggling after recent snowstorms. The Group heard that because of those events, people were holding off on putting claims in. Rural Recovery Group co-ordinator Allan Baird urged them to register damage as soon as possible.

Selwyn District Council Recovery Welfare Manager Diane Chesmar said there had been a small number of Red Cross applications from the Selwyn district and some inquiries about emotional support.

“We understand that in this type of event the bulk of the social needs come three months after the event.”

In terms of damage to farm property, group members reported there had been limited damage to some shallow wells, some stockwater and domestic pumps and one large submersible pump. Some GPS stations had moved and farmers who use them should contact suppliers to check their status.

Researchers from the University of Canterbury and Lincoln University investigating the issue of sand on lifestyler paddocks in the Tai Tapu and Greenpark areas recommended spreading the sand across paddocks, cultivating and then redrilling with seed. It would cost more than just scraping the sand across the paddocks and direct drilling, but this would result in a better long term solution, Dr Tom Wilson and Dr Peter Almond said.

This week is the last of the Rural Recovery Group formal meetings. People with issues can continue to obtain assistance or advice through the Selwyn District Council – 03 347 2800, or information from the RRG page on the Selwyn District Council website.


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