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Wairoa hill country farms bore the brunt of the weather bomb

2022 04 07

Wairoa farms bore the brunt of the regional weather bomb according to farm consultant and former well-known local man Hilton Collier.

He described the recent weather event as like turning on a tap over the Ruakituri, Tiniroto, Mangapoike and Marumaru areas of the Wairoa district.

He says while localised flooding, particularly in the Tokomaru Bay area of Tairawhiti, was devastating for those people, but from a farming perspective it is the Wairoa hill country properties hit by the weather band that have suffered the most.

Mr Collier acknowledged the rainfall event left a swathe of damage throughout Tairawhiti and Hawke’s Bay, but Wairoa’s hill country bore the brunt recording rainfall of 1200-1500mm with large scale earth movements and slips of up to 50ha. 

His advice is for farmers to get their properties operational so they can control stock movement and take a breath and let the land dry out and settle down.

“This is not a time for knee-jerk reactions, it’s a time to listen to old heads who have seen it before.

“Nature will heal the slips and then additional work can begin. We have to be mindful we are still heading into our wet season.”

Mr Collier also said there will be a lot of regional learnings to take out of this event. “This event demonstrates what happens with a centralised control centre, where we are getting the real time data but not combining that with knowledge. Time and time again we collect the data, but we need to know what this means for the people affected by the river system.

“With the mapping, GIS technology and real time rainfall measurements and data that we have in place surely when we have a rainfall of this volume, we are able to translate that into how that effects everything downstream? I am concerned we are becoming intoxicated by the title and forgetting the communities we serve.”

He also suggested it is worth farmers looking at their at-risk hills and considering transitioning from total pastoral land to some tree cropping to take advantage of the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Mr Collier, who is supervisor of Tukemokihi Station, said of the property’s 6,500 ha, around 1,500 ha of the steepest at-risk hill country, riparian areas and around slips where there has been large scale earth movement, could transition into some type of tree crop.

“We need to recognise that these 100-year events are becoming more and more frequent and there is a need to do more to protect our land and critical infrastructure.”


7 April 2022

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