Losing the farm to nature

The term losing the farm usually refers to financial problems but in Hawkes Bay it can be applied literally as record rainfall caused floods and slips:

Large areas of low-lying farmland were been flooded in the two-day storm; one station near Waipawa recorded 500mm of rain.

Marion McKee, who with her husband farms 610 hectares near the coast at Blackhead, said up to three-quarters of the property has been lost to slips and other damage, and their immediate neighbours had been hit just as badly.

Another coastal farmer, John Nation, said 530mm of rain in two days had caused deep slips on hillsides, destroyed fences, including boundary fences, and damaged buildings.

Mr Nation estimated about half his farm has been destroyed in the storm.

A Landcorp farm is among those worst hit:

Landcorp says much of Te Apiti station (1200 hectares) has been destroyed.

Chief executive Chris Kelly says 30% of the farm has been lost and boundary fences are largely gone.

The SOE estimates repairs will cost about $450,000.

The worst of the damage was fairly localised. Farmers outside that area welcomed 120mm of rain and will be able to help those who’ve lost large parts of their farm to nature.

3 Responses to Losing the farm to nature

  1. gravedodger says:

    Before the “Climos” get involved, devastation of this magnitude occurred around the late 1970s in the coastal Wairarapa, Gisborne with Cyclone Bola in the late 80s, Northern Rangitikei, Eastern Taranaki and the king country late 90s. The common thread was the wholesale clearing of bush off steep mudstone based hill country with the assistance of what seems today, misguided subsidies for creating grassland. Another case of unforeseen outcomes from well intentioned government policy moves.
    I don’t know yet if the massive devastation of hillslopes in the Bay is confined to the mudstone soils or is also affecting the more inherently stable and earlier cleared limestone hills which are a major component ot the geography.

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  2. bulaman says:

    Plant more Trees!!

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  3. JC says:

    “Before the “Climos” get involved, devastation of this magnitude occurred around the late 1970s in the coastal Wairarapa,”

    It was 1977, around the time of the Woeful Wales tour. It rained for something like 40-50 days non stop and we watched much of the country south of Pahiatua to Martinborough simply slide away.

    Whilst there were some instances of complete devastation the average loss was 20-30% per farm in the slip zones. The Catchment Bd under Murray King got cracking and organised a massive planting programme of light trees and even scrub to save the better pasture lands, and I used the Forestry Encouragement Grant Scheme of the FS to plant up the worst of the catchments that failed.

    “Gisborne with Cyclone Bola in the late 80s,”

    1988.. same story, except the FS had a much bigger programme of protection/production plantings. This was ongoing with the Catchment Bd and this is where the huge afforestation schemes happened first from the early 90s. Nationally we went from 15,000 under Labour to something like 150,000ha in 1993.

    “Northern Rangitikei, Eastern Taranaki and the king country late 90s. The common thread was the wholesale clearing of bush off steep mudstone based hill country with the assistance of what seems today, misguided subsidies for creating grassland. Another case of unforeseen outcomes from well intentioned government policy moves.
    I don’t know yet if the massive devastation of hillslopes in the Bay is confined to the mudstone soils”

    It appears to be pretty localised to the Coastal area around Haumoana, Te Awanga and the like. From that area down the East Coast to South of Martinborough you are dealing with Hawkes Bay limestone coastal hills fading into the Argillite/Sandstones of the Wairarapa.. they slip, but only shallowly. I did a fair bit of goat shooting in the Te Awanga area back in the 50s on the coastal stations.. lots of scrub back then so probably some of the harder sandstones with papa gullies.

    “..or is also affecting the more inherently stable and earlier cleared limestone hills which are a major component ot the geography.”

    These days a lot of the hard hill country of the EC of the NI has either been let go back to scrub and/or planted in pine, so stable within 5 years. Its the better land around the old class 4-5 that is so valuable but still vulnerable to very severe rainstorms that could still slip that is likely to have gone. So the Ngatapa hills around Gissie have often been hit, the Te Awanga type area of Hawkes Bay and the Gladstone type country in the Wairarapa that got hit some decades ago.

    Another factor.. we’ve become used to El Nino type weather over the last thirty years, and forgotten what the warmer La Nina subtropical storms can do. Here in Rotorua and back in Feb we got hit with 15 inches of rain in a couple of days.. thecountry held up quite well, but a few days later we got another 5 inches and we really got gullying.. now every bit of rain we get is playing hell with my roading programme. HB got a fair bit of this as well, so its a case of one storm predisposing the land for erosion in the next storm.

    Isn’t it funny.. we forget so easily the great storms and earthquakes that rocked our world only a generation ago and now seem like a new and ominous thing that *must* have been caused by humans..

    I’m reminded of the Edgecombe Earthquake of 1987.. one of our surveyors was on Mt Edgecombe with a female assistant, he reported to the papers that a huge rock just missed them and their vehicle when it struck.. he said “the earth moved beneath us”.. unfortunately the reporter failed to ask the young lady to verify if the earth had moved for her too.

    JC

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