Thursday, February 22, 2024

More dollars delivered for silt’s removal

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Latest allocation for Gabrielle cleanup welcomed in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne.
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Growers and farmers in the Gisborne-Hawke’s Bay regions are welcoming the government’s announcement of an additional $63 million to help clean up woody debris and silt, coming on the first anniversary of Cyclone Gabrielle.

The announcement was made by Prime Minister Chris Luxon at a remembrance day held in Hawke’s Bay.

Brydon Nisbet, chair of Hawke’s Bay Fruit Growers charitable trust, said everyone in the region is celebrating the announcement, and the amount will go a long way to dealing with the region’s residual silt.

“We have already also been given $10m and this will hopefully enable us to deal with the last of it. Everything has been on hold up until now,” he said.

There are nine engineered silt deposit sites in the region, and many farmers and orchardists may have moved the silt from their land but have piles of it awaiting removal to those sites.

“So this will go a long way to finally fully clear it for them.” 

He was relatively confident the amount would be sufficient to deal with the remaining problem.

Once placed in the sites the silt is compacted and rolled down, and ultimately likely to have vegetation planted above it.

Of the $63m put forward, $40m has been allocated to Hawke’s Bay, with $3m ring-fenced for Wairoa, and the remaining $23m is committed to Tairāwhiti for silt and woody debris clearance.

Gisborne-Wairoa Federated Farmers president Toby Williams welcomed the announcement but said the issue of roading repair with its $500m bill will likely cast a shadow over the region in coming years.

“With the $23m, the council got exactly what they asked for which is great. However, we also need to point out that woody debris is a legacy issue that will be around for generation, even though forestry practices are changing today.”

Nearly 160,000 tonnes of woody debris have been removed from the region’s land and beaches.

The latest allocation brings total government funding across the two regions to $232m for debris and silt clearance.

Williams said there are still large swathes of areas covered in logs, and despite forestry companies’ efforts to remove them, their efforts are now constrained by tight financial budgets due to the forestry downturn.

In Focus podcast | 9 February

This month marks one year since Cyclone Gabrielle ripped through the eastern North Island. Farmers, growers and communities faced a massive recovery as they worked to rebuild infrastructure, supply chains and get the land back into productive shape.

For this week’s show, Bryan sits down with Rod Vowles, who farms just east of Waipawa a few kilometres from the Tukituki River. His story of survival is astonishing.

Then, Karen Morrish from Apples and Pears NZ to see how Hawke’s Bay growers are faring as the harvest gets under way.

And, Federated Farmers national board member Sandra Faulkner shares how Tairāwhiti farmers are getting on up the coast.

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