When farmers have needed a bit of help after natural disasters hit, the Handy Landys have been there.
The group earned the new Voluntary Contribution of the Year accolade at the Lincoln University Blues and Golds Awards for travelling to Hawke’s Bay in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle to help farmers.
However, they are not a particularly social student club.Though it is a side of the club that is growing, it’s not their reason for being.
They assemble only when they see an opportunity to help, united by their desire to assist the rural communities many of them come from.
Current club chair Emily Irwin and former chair Hamish Goatley said they were an on-call crew available at short notice to help.
“When there are no issues unfolding in the community our members stay involved in other clubs and the Lincoln University community,” Irwin said.
“However, it is great to see the developing social environment, as members stay in touch outside of club events and encourage others to become involved.”
They have become natural disaster specialists, lending a hand after earthquakes and floods, raising funds through picking apples, or putting gumboots on the ground to help repair fences and clear land.
Irwin said there are 15 active members, but many other people support the club when events are on.
“For example, 27 people participated in the apple-picking fundraiser at the Waipopo Apple Orchard.”
She said club members are from Northland to Southland “and everywhere inbetween” and study a variety of subjects ranging from agricultural science to agribusiness, valuation and commerce.
“People join Handy Landys to make a positive difference in rural communities. Many of the club members come from rural communities and have witnessed the damage of natural disasters,” Goatley said.
“Many of us intend to be a part of these rural communities upon graduation and realise that assisting the rural community is beneficial for the current and future health of the sector.”
He said many members recognise that they may also find themselves in a situation where assistance is needed and are “paying it forward”.
“The camaraderie that occurs on trips and the learnings and connections made between students and with farmers is another huge drawcard,” Irwin said.
“If the job is outside our abilities, we will pass the need on to industry bodies.
“We are striving to expand our connections within the industry to increase the population of people we can help.”
They are starting to organise events for the beginning of 2024, particularly Clubs and Markets Day, when new students will have the opportunity to join the team, as well as looking into future fundraising opportunities.