Farming, growers, fishers and other rural people affected by recent storms and flooding are invited to take a break from the hard yakka and join The Big Check-in, an online evening of support for rural people post-cyclone on Thursday, May 4.
Hosted by Te Radar, the interactive online session is a nationwide opportunity to check-in with whānau, friends and supporters, and pick up some practical wellbeing tools and tips for keeping on track.
“In tough times like these, rural people naturally look out for and support each other. The Big Check-in builds as an online event for everyone to come together,” said Tairāwhiti farmer and event speaker Sandra Matthews, whose farm was damaged in Cyclone Gabrielle.
“It’s a serious topic, but pressing pause, sharing stories and laughs and having a yarn about what we’re dealing with will help set us up for the next step. On the night, there will be plenty of interaction, practical tools and tips from experts and some of us on the ground, and an overview of available resources.”
The interactive evening session, which runs from 7pm to 8.30pm, will feature speakers who have direct experience of the impacts of natural disasters and wellbeing expertise, among them:
• Lieutenant Colonel Steve Kearney – Chief Mental Health Officer and clinical psychologist for the New Zealand Defence Force, who will share practical wellbeing tools for the road ahead.
• Dr Lucy Hone – A director of the NZ Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience who will share stories of adaptability and hope after a crisis, including some from Christchurch post-quake.
• Michelle Ruddell (Ngati Tūwharetoa) – A dairy farmer and chair of the Northland Rural Support Trust, who will bring the Northland community perspective.
• Sandra Matthews – Tairāwhiti sheep and beef farmer, community leader and Rural Co-ordination Group member, who is a voice on-the ground for the Tairāwhiti rural community.
“The Big Check-In came about through multiple primary sectors and service groups sharing knowledge and resources to help support wellbeing in the recovery,” said one of the event organisers, Lisa Sims of the Agri-Women’s Development Trust.
“We hope people will leave with at least one new thing they can do to look after themselves, whānau or friends, and knowing that the primary sector is behind them,” said Sims, who understands the value of checking in, having lost her family farmhouse in a fire.
“We encourage anyone to join, whether they have been directly affected or not, including those in supporting or service roles. It’s been great to see some local community leaders organising some local get-togethers around this event.”
The Big Check-in is supported by a collective of primary sector organisations and individuals, including the Rural Support Trust, Agri-Women’s Development Trust, HortNZ, Vegetables NZ, Summerfruit NZ, NZ Winegrowers, Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ, First Mate and the Ministry for Primary Industries.
Registration is essential.