Matt Holden was quick to search for positives after a huge crevasse suddenly appeared on his Hawke’s Bay sheep farm during the region’s latest downpour.
Holden, who owns the property southwest of Ongaonga on Blackburn Road along with business partner Hamish Bibby, said Cyclone Gabrielle and months of wet weather had prepared them for landslips on their farm.
But the pair were taken aback when they discovered that the land, drenched by more than 200mm of rain at the weekend, had given way and created an estimated 20m by 80m crevasse in a paddock.
“Obviously we are all pretty aware of what slips look like after rain,” Holden said.
“This is nothing like it. It’s quite unique really. I said to Hamish, ‘We’ve now got a tourist attraction’.
“It looks more like a crevasse and it looks more like something triggered by an earthquake, rather than just rain.
“The chunk of land has actually gone down and sideways. It’s extraordinary. It’s almost like it’s been cut with a knife and prised apart.”
Bibby discovered the crevasse on Saturday as he inspected the property during heavy rain. The pair went for a closer look on Sunday.
“It was actually quite exciting to look at it,” Holden said.
“Some of these poor farmers have had their farms decimated with slips. This is almost like ‘Cool, now we’ve got this amazing natural feature.’
“It’s huge. You could probably fit two truck and trailer units in it.”
Holden said they were fortunate there was no stock in the area when the land gave way, particularly as it is an area where stock traditionally congregate.
The crevasse will be fenced off until they decide what can be done with the land.
“I’m sure it will spark some interest from the regional council or someone in the geotech space … just curious to come and have a look.”
Holden said the crevasse is just a continuation of what have been a tough few months since Gabrielle.
“It’s been pretty unforgiving for all farmers in general.”
One of the biggest difficulties has been getting around the property to carry out necessary repairs. He has heard of farmers who have built new fences and tracks since the cyclone, but all that work has been undone with the most recent rain.
“May was a relatively kind month weather wise, thank God. But June has just undone everything.
“What farmers know is that there is still a lot of winter to go.”
The Holden, Bibby and Marshall families make up Kelso Genetics, one of New Zealand’s leading sheep genetics companies.
Holden said his job title at the company is “people” – and in difficult times like this it is important farmers look out for each other.
“What I’ve learnt is that in these times how important communication is.
“Just picking up the phone and getting in touch with people, checking in, even just with an email, to ask ‘How are you getting on?’
“There is a lot of winter to go so it’s going to get even more important to keep in contact with clients, with farmers, with mates.
“And aways remember that a smile is really infectious.”