An army of about 25 fencing contractors is expected to descend on Hawke’s Bay on Thursday and Friday this week to help replace fencing on several cyclone-damaged farms.
Part of the “Help a mate, buy a gate!” campaign that raises money for fencing materials, the assistance is organised by the Fencing Contractors Association of New Zealand (FCANZ), which aims to provide high-quality fencing and take some of the load off local landowners and fencing contractors.
“We all saw the awful images during the floods and in the immediate aftermath, but now, three months on, those in cyclone-hit areas are living with the everyday reality of the sheer scale of damage,” FCANZ president Phil Cornelius said.
“It’s just overwhelming for many people.”
Industry partners have provided their support, supplied machinery, fencing supplies, labour and food for the volunteers.
The focus this week will be on fences damaged by flooding from the Waipawa River.
Volunteers are coming from around NZ, including three Primary Industry Academy (PIA) students from Geraldine High School in South Canterbury, who have already completed a week in the area during the school holidays.
Hawke’s Bay Primary ITO will also be offering training opportunities as part of the New Zealand Certificate in Fencing (Level 3).
This will enable those who have had their employment disrupted by the cyclone to learn rural fence construction basics and potentially work with local fencing crews.
Cornelius said after this effort, FCANZ will continue to fundraise so it can return in late spring for another fencing effort.
“The reality is that the sheer damage to the area means that it will be some time until the full scale of the rebuild is known. Reinstating permanent fencing in the region can’t start until the silt and debris have been cleared,” he said.
“This is just the start – we will be back.”