Rural round-up

November 27, 2015

Rural NZ areas sit on ‘powder keg’ as temperatures rise – Mike Watson:

Rural fire authorities are warning farmers and contractors to check for potential ‘hot spots’ inside machinery and farm equipment as temperatures rise in Marlborough.

Marlborough Kaikoura Rural Fire Authority chief fire officer Richard McNamara said the rural region was on a “powder keg’ as temperatures rise and hot northwest winds continued to dry vegetation causing significant risk of fire outbreaks.

“It is a real issue, and anyone working with farm machinery and equipment, such as welding or grinding, needs to be aware of the risk of sparks igniting any vegetation nearby,” he said. . . 

Many positives but RMA reforms don’t go far enough:

Federated Farmers cautiously welcomes the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill introduced at Parliament today, but is concerned that proposed reforms do not go far enough.

“What we have is a Bill that looks to make the RMA less costly and cumbersome, and these are positive changes,” says Federated Farmers’ Environment and RMA spokesperson Chris Allen.

“Federated Farmers believes the Bill provides for better plan making and we support the introduction of a collaborative planning approach as long as the right checks and balances are in place, so that this is a robust and productive process.” . . .

Alliance launches new products for Chinese market:

Meat cooperative Alliance Group is launching a new range of market-ready lamb, beef and venison products for the food retail market in China.

Alliance Group has reached an agreement with its in-market partner Grand Farm – China’s single largest importer of sheepmeat – to market the co-branded Pure South-Grand Farm products in the country from next year.

Marketing general manager Murray Brown said with meat volumes going into China becoming more difficult, the company was looking to add value to exports. . . .

Competitive future for “unbroken” NZ dairy – visiting global expert:

New Zealand dairy is well placed to compete in the global market as prices begin to recover in the coming 12 months, a visiting global dairy specialist has told localproducers.

Tim Hunt, New York-based global dairy strategist with international agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank, says while current market conditions are “extremely tough” for many local producers, the New Zealand dairy sector is “unbroken” and has the fundamentals in place to enjoy a strong, competitive future in the global dairy trade. . . .

Ongoing disruption and volatility in dairy, with winners and losers – Keith Woodford:

In the last two weeks we have seen increasing signs of further disruption and volatility in dairy. First, there was good news with Fonterra announcing that they had turned the corner In relation to enhanced corporate profitability. But then, only two days later, there was another decline on the (GDT Global Dairy Trade) auction – this time of 7.9 percent overall and 11 percent for whole-milk powder.

In the meantime, The a2 Milk Company announced that they were almost doubling their previous estimate of profitability for the coming year, triggering another increase in the share price. Since the start of November through to 24 November the price rose 60 percent on large volumes. . . 

Ruataniwha promoter seeks mix of equity, debt funding – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Co, the developer and sponsor of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme, says the $275 million project will be funded with a mix of equity and debt, and is likely to result in a secondary market for water contracts.

HBRIC, the investment arm of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, is in talks with three potential investors and banks about funding. The council is putting up $80 million for an equity stake in a yet-to-be formed irrigation company. The $195 million balance will come from outside investors, bank debt and an expected contribution from the government’s Crown Irrigation Investments, which acts as a bridging investor for regional water infrastructure developments. . . 

Cellphone helps save house from Australian bushfire:

An Australian man who saw his farm “explode in a fireball” on CCTV cameras at the property says his house survived because he used his phone to activate a sprinkler system from the other side of the country.

Charles Darwin University vice chancellor Professor Simon Maddocks said the reason his house at the 45-hectare wheat farm on the outskirts of Hamley Bridge escaped the fire was because of his neighbours – and the fact he activated an irrigation system at the property by remote control from Darwin.

Two people have been confirmed dead and more than a dozen injured in the fires which continue to burn north of Adelaide. . . 

Consultation on freshwater management ideas planned:

A report today published by the Land and Water Forum on the next steps needed to improved management of freshwater will be carefully considered by Government and help contribute to a public discussion paper to be published next year, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said today. 

“The Government has an ambitious programme of work on improving New Zealand’s freshwater management.  These ideas on requiring good management practice, of how we can maximise the economic benefit of water within environmental limits, integrated catchment management, stock exclusion and enabling more efficient use of water are a further contribution on how we can achieve that,” Dr Smith says.

“I acknowledge the Forum’s significant efforts in tackling difficult policy challenges and we welcome their recommendations,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Irrigation New Zealand Welcomes 4th LAWF Report:

Irrigation New Zealand welcomes the fourth Land and Water Forum (LAWF) Report.

“The diverse group of forum members have spent a lot of time collaborating to reach the additional recommendations,” said Andrew Curtis, CEO of Irrigation New Zealand. “This has resulted in constructive advice to Ministers for the development of freshwater policy. It’s now time for the government to act.”

“Freshwater is a natural and recurring resource we need to protect, and is a national asset which needs to be properly and carefully managed to bolster our agricultural-led economy. . . .

Barbara Stuart returns to the NZWAC board:

Nelson farmer and outdoor-access supporter Barbara Stuart has been appointed to the Board of the New Zealand Walking Access Commission.

The appointment heralds Mrs Stuart’s second tenure on the board, where she previously served from 2008 to 2011.

New Zealand Walking Access Commission chairman John Forbes said Mrs Stuart had long been a champion of walking access and her return was very welcome. . . .

Farm Environment Trust’s Annual Report Highlights Growth:

The New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust and its flagship event, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, have celebrated another successful year.

Now available on the Trust’s website, the 2015 annual report outlines the organisation’s continued growth through 2015, with another region signing up to the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

“We are delighted to have the Auckland region in the Awards for the 2016 programme,” said NZFE Trust chairman Simon Saunders.

“Having Auckland on board is a huge step towards being able to offer a complete national programme. We are almost there.” . . . 

Rural round-up

November 6, 2015

Lochinver Station sells to New Zealand buyer:

One of New Zealand’s largest farms, Lochinver Station in the central North Island, will remain in New Zealand ownership following its sale for an undisclosed sum to privately owned New Zealand farming group Rimanui Farms Ltd.

It will take over the ownership of the 13,843 hectare sheep and beef station, upon settlement of the sale in March next year, from one of New Zealand’s largest private companies, Stevenson Group Limited, which has owned it for more than half a century.

Bayleys Real Estate recommenced marketing the property last month after the Government announced it had turned down an Overseas Investment Office application from Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin’s subsidiary Pure 100 to buy the property. . . 

IrrigationNZ calls for 350,000ha more land to be irrigated – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – IrrigationNZ is calling for a dramatic escalation in irrigation, saying New Zealand could bring water to an additional 350,000 hectares by 2025, boosting agricultural production and providing a buffer against weather events such as El Nino-induced drought.

The lobby group wants a 50 percent increase in irrigated land in the next 10 years, according to its industry snapshot released today. New Zealand currently has about 720,000 hectares of irrigated land, and IrrigationNZ has produced a map showing where irrigation could be expanded, pushing total watered land to more than 1 million hectares.

Chief executive Andrew Curtis said New Zealand’s primary production growth is being hampered by a lack of a reliable water supply, which ultimately holds back economic growth. . . 

No jobs?  move to the regions, urges govt:

Unemployed people are being urged to look to the regions for work by the government, after the unemployment rate broke the 6 percent mark yesterday.

The rate is now at its highest point in two years and economists have predicted that it is likely to rise further.

Listen to more on Morning Report ( 4 min 32 sec )

But Steven Joyce, Minister of Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment told Morning Report it was a “multi-regional story”, with lot of shifts around the country.

He said that in some regions such as Otago and Northland, there were shortages of people applying for jobs, and unemployed people should consider moving if they could. . . 

Forestry joins GIA biosecurity agreement:

The forestry industry has become the sixth industry group to join the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) biosecurity partnership, Primary Industries Ministers Nathan Guy and Jo Goodhew have announced today.

“It’s great to have the New Zealand Forest Owners Association (FOA) onboard, working with the Ministry for Primary Industries to manage and respond to the most important biosecurity risks,” says Mr Guy.

“A growing number of industries have now signed up to work together with the Government through the GIA.” . . 

Forest defence bolstered by agreement with government:

The Forest Owners Association says having a biosecurity agreement with the government is a vital part of the forest industry’s defence system.

FOA chief executive David Rhodes and primary industries minister Nathan Guy today signed what is known as a Government-Industry Agreement at Parliament. The agreement defines where responsibilities and costs will fall in the event of an outbreak of a serious forest pest or disease.

“For 50 years we have had a forest health surveillance scheme that is seen by overseas experts as one of the best in the world. But being ‘best’ is not good enough, we need it to be as near to perfect as we can make it,” says Mr Rhodes. . . 

FMG's photo.

Rural round-up

November 5, 2015

Fonterra expected to meet its forecast payout as lower production boosts prices – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s largest dairy exporter, is expected to be able to meet its forecast payout to farmers for this season even after dairy prices fell at a second consecutive auction.

Average prices fell 7.4 percent at last night’s GlobalDairyTrade auction, following a 3.1 percent decline the previous auction, which snapped four consecutive gains.

Auckland-based Fonterra, owned by about 10,500 farmers, has said it expects to pay its local producers $4.60 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2015/16 season. . . 

Women of Influence 2015 finalists: Rural

The finalists for the 2015 Women of Influence Awards in the Rural category, proudly sponsored by NZ Farmer.

Olivia Egerton

Olivia is movement manager for Te Hono, a movement of more than 130 CEOs and leaders who represent 80% of New Zealand’s largest and most innovative primary sector companies. Its vision is to shift New Zealand from a price-taking to a market-shaping nation. In the last 12 months Olivia has facilitated the transition of Te Hono towards a structured framework with more than 250 individual and collective actions achieved and many more in progress. . . 

Keri Johnston

Keri is a director and natural resources engineer at Irricon Resource Solutions, a leading environmental consultancy based throughout Canterbury and North Otago and working throughout the South Island. . . 

Julia Jones

Julia is a farm enterprise specialist with KPMG, providing continued support to the rural community through mediation and one-on-one support. One of Julia’s specialities is health and safety. . . .

Katie Milne

Katie is a Rotomanu dairy farmer on the West Coast, and a Federated Farmers’ board member. Katie was most recently awarded the Dairy Woman of the Year Award this year. With her partner, Ian Whitmore, she farms 125 hectares, milking 200 Jersey cows on a farm purchased in 1992. . . 

Bronwyn Muir

Brownyn is director of OnFarmSafety New Zealand, employing 12 staff throughout New Zealand, and focused on assisting farmers to implement compliant, practical, workable health and safety systems. . . .

Helen Slattery

Helen is a director of Slattery Contracting, Matamata’s only registered contractor with the New Zealand Rural Registered Contractor scheme, and she holds qualified contractor status. Five of the staff are qualified contractors, holding the National Certificate in Agricultural Contracting Level 3, with a sixth staff member going through the qualification at the moment.. . . 

Sophie Stanley

Sophie is head of rural at Figured, having started as part of the founding team in early 2014. Figured is an online farm financial management tool that integrates with Xero, and within a year the company has grown to close to 20 staff as well as growing its Australian business. . . . 

Michelle Thompson

Michelle is the chief executive at the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand and was instrumental in establishing this organisation. She is an experienced chief executive and senior manager who has provided services to a range of health sector organisations including the NZ Rural GP Network, the PHO Alliance, General Practice NZ, Compass Health, Southern Cross and Kowhai Health Trust. . . . 

The winners were announced last night. Katie Milne won the Rural section, Joan Withers won the Supreme Award.

IrrigationNZ launches 2015 snapshot of industry:

IrrigationNZ will launch its first-ever annual snapshot of New Zealand’s irrigation sector at today’s AGM in response to enquiries about the health of the industry and proposed developments across the country.

“The 2015 Irrigation Snapshot provides a transparent window on irrigation in New Zealand – where we irrigate, what’s happening with future developments, how much water we use, what it is taken for and the value this creates for our nation. Many stakeholders have asked for an update on the status of irrigation so we’ve pulled together the latest data to illustrate the national situation,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis. . . .

Farmers welcome Filipino workers’ reprieve:

Farmers are pleased at the government’s offer of a second chance for Filipino dairy workers caught in visa scams.

Applicants who admit to providing false information about their work experience in order to gain a visa, but who are otherwise compliant, will be eligible for a further work visa.

But workers and advocacy groups are still concerned there could be snags in the process.

Immigration New Zealand has been reviewing the past year’s visa applications from Filipinos after a dual Filipino/New Zealand national was charged with falsifying qualifications and work experience in visa applications. . . 

Wine industry welcomes registration system for wine regions:

Introduction of a Bill by Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith enabling geographical indications (GIs) for wines and spirits to be registered in New Zealand has been warmly welcomed by New Zealand Winegrowers.

“The Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Amendment Bill will be a significant advance for the New Zealand wine industry,” said New Zealand Winegrowers CEO, Philip Gregan. “Our ‘Geographical Indications’ – the names and places where our wines come from – are at the very heart of the New Zealand wine story and this Bill provides an additional level of protection for them.” . . .

First Cheese Off the Line at Fonterra’s Eltham Expansion:

The expansion of Fonterra’s Eltham site has reached a key milestone, with the first individually wrapped slices of cheese now coming off its new production line destined for supermarket shelves around the globe.

The new line is part of a $32 million project to bolster the site’s cheese capability, doubling the amount of the world-renowned sliced cheese that can be produced at the Taranaki-based site.

Director New Zealand Manufacturing, Mark Leslie says Fonterra is constantly looking at trends in key markets and working with customers to help meet their growth with investment. . . 

Nominations in for Silver Fern Farms’ director elections:

Four nominations have been received for the one available position on the Silver Fern Farms Board of Directors.

Angus Mabin retires by rotation at the Company’s 2015 Annual Meeting which is to be held in Dunedin on Wednesday 16 December 2015. Angus Mabin has advised he will not stand for re-election.

The candidates for election are:

– Anthony O’Boyle

– William Oliver

– Oliver Saxton

– David Shaw . . .

Agricultural economics explained with an analogy to solar and wind power – Utopia:

It’s a video, click the link to watch (there’s a few words that might offend).

Rural round-up

August 27, 2015

Farmers not off the hook on health and safety:

It’s a complete fallacy that the farming community doesn’t have to worry about health and safety as a result of proposed changes to the Health and Safety Reform Bill, according to an expert in the field.

Crowe Horwath agri health and safety expert Melissa Vining says the recent hype around proposed changes have monopolised the headlines in recent days with many accusing the government of letting farmers off the hook.

However she is quick to dispel the myth that farmers have been given a mandate to ignore health and safety. . . 

Landcorp posts 2014/15 annual results:

Landcorp has recorded a net operating profit of $4.9 million on revenue of $224.3 million for the year ended 30 June 2015.

The $4.9 million net operating profit is down from the $30 million result the previous year. The sharp decline in the price of milk solids, combined with lower lamb prices, saw income from farm products drop 11.7 per cent on the previous year, to $213.5 million.

Landcorp chief executive Steven Carden said record-low dairy prices and tough growing conditions had driven overall financial performance down. However, a constructive response to challenging conditions had helped buffer Landcorp from major impact. . .

New Zealand in unique position for ‘water development’:

New Zealand has many advantages over the rest of the world when it comes to ‘water development’ but we need to get better at leveraging water use – for our future well-being and to protect us from the effects of climate change, says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

This week is World Water Week 2015 with a theme of ‘Water for Development’. More than 3000 people, including world leaders, water experts and international aid organisations, have gathered in Stockholm, Sweden to debate solutions for water crisis around the globe at an annual symposium run by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) (

Mr Curtis says New Zealanders are blissfully unaware of the relative advantage New Zealand has with plentiful rivers, lakes and groundwater supply across the country. . . 

Huge potential in Chathams – farmer:

The Chatham Islands has a huge, untapped potential for farming but a better understanding of soils is needed, one of the islands’ farmers says.

The islands are part of New Zealand and lie 750km east of the South Island.

Federated Farmers Chatham Islands chair Tony Anderson said there were 15 large farming operations there but many farmers worked a second job in the fishing industry. . . 

‘Power Play’ Innovation in Dairy Awards:

Entrants in the 2016 Dairy Manager of the Year contest will play to their strengths with a ‘power play’ initiative among the new judging criteria.

The change is one of many to the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards programme, aimed at enabling more people to enter the awards competitions and at ensuring people with similar age, skills, maturity and investment in the industry compete against each other.

National convenor Chris Keeping says other changes include new competition names, entry and judging criteria – like the power play. . . 

OMG Dairy NZ Confessions Stories Advice's photo.

Rural round-up

May 22, 2015

Breaking down NZ fences – Lindy Nelson:

From dairy to red meat, New Zealand agribusiness is undergoing a profound transformation. The expanding markets of Asia bring both new opportunities as well as challenges.

To extract the maximum value from these opportunities the sector needs an injection of new ideas and perspectives and to engage 100 per cent of its available talent. One of the ways this is happening is the emergence of more women in leadership roles.

From boardrooms to the management of New Zealand’s top agribusinesses, women are stepping into roles not traditionally held in our sector. . . .

INZ supportive of budget 2015 allocation to freshwater management:

Irrigation New Zealand supports the government’s budget allocation to assisting councils with the implementation of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and the 2014 National Objectives Framework, and to supporting a new collaborative approach to resolving managing freshwater.

“This will help water policy evolve into even more practical, precise and workable terms and will hopefully make the consenting and regulatory process around water storage and irrigation infrastructure development less costly and lengthy,” says Mr Curtis. “It will also give more recognition to the collaborative processes which are already happening in water catchments about future infrastructure development. . .

Plea to promote good employers:

A rural recruitment specialist says the farming sector should be identifying and celebrating good employers, not naming and shaming the bad ones.

This week Council of Trade Union president, Helen Kelly, has been tweeting links to farm ads which she says are for jobs paying below the minimum wage – and sometimes even below $13 an hour.

John Fegan has been a rural recruitment and HR specialist in the Waikato region for more than 20 years and while he agrees there are bad employers out there, he does not agree with what Helen Kelly is doing.

Mr Fegan believes a system which highlights farmers who have good employment standards is the best way to go about bringing change. . .

Ballance makes key leadership appointments:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has announced the appointment of two general managers as well as appointments to new roles in strategy and agricultural technology.

Chief Executive Mark Wynne said the appointments were aligned with a revised focus for the co-operative on driving value for shareholders from its core fertiliser business, building the capability of its people, and making smarter use of data and technology to support better decision making both within the company and on the farm. . .


Low payout, smarter herd management:

“If you want to get the best out of your farming business when payout is low, you need to have the right tools.”

That’s the view of Drury-based dairy farmer Sue Dyer, who recently presented at a series of workshops run by CRV Ambreed to teach farmers how technology can be better used to achieve their herd improvement goals.

Dyer said dairy farmers spend too much time on administration and managing their herd information, and when time is money, farmers have to make a considered decision about the products and services they use and how they use them. . .

Danielle Nierenberg's photo.

Rural round-up

May 14, 2015

Drought conditions remain in South Island:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says farmers throughout the eastern South Island are still feeling the effects of drought, particularly in North Canterbury.

“It’s likely the medium-scale adverse event classification will remain in place until August or September this year, depending on conditions over autumn,” says Mr Guy.

“Despite recent rainfall, farmers and growers are still feeling the impacts of these prolonged dry conditions.

“In particular, the driest area is around Cheviot in North Canterbury which has been largely missed by most of the recent rainfall. . .


Drought takes its toll – feed an issue:

Federated Farmers North Canterbury say farmers affected by the drought are facing a tough year ahead and will be struggling with some tough decisions.

“It is not a great time for farmers in North Canterbury, most of us are facing a year of little to no feed, low stocking rates and substantial financial losses,” says Dan Hodgen, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chair. 

“With the drought leaving us with a significant lack of grass and crop growth, we are either having to sell capital stock at a much lower rate than we usually would or having to buy in supplementary feed. Some farmers are doing both.” . . .

El Niño pattern blow to Canterbury farmers – Susie Nordqvist:

North Canterbury farmers already in the grip of their worst drought in 60 years have been dealt another blow today.

NIWA says we are on the cusp of an El Niño weather pattern, meaning things are about to get even drier in the east and wetter in the west.

Canterbury’s trademark Nor’west winds are exactly what drought-stricken farmers don’t need.

“When you just get the wind likes this it’s stripping out the moisture in it,” says Federated Farmers north Canterbury president Lynda Murchison. . .

Relentless drought and El Nino means more water storage needed:

Today it was confirmed that drought conditions in the South Island will likely drag on until September this year, emphasising the risk of dry weather patterns to New Zealand and highlighting the need for regional water storage and irrigation infrastructure,” says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ CEO. “These conditions are only likely to worsen in the long term and spread to other parts of the country as a predicted El Nino weather pattern sets in.”

Concerns about how these warm weather patterns will impact our economy were set out in a recent International Monetary Fund report

( As part of its findings, the report recommended further investment in irrigation. . .

Bay of Plenty set for good growth:

The Bay of Plenty region and its industries could grow substantially thanks to its resource, population, location and climate advantages, a newly published report reveals.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today released the Bay of Plenty Regional Growth Study, which shows that the region has a number of natural advantages and is well placed to attract further investment, raise incomes and increase employment.

“This study provides a detailed summary of the opportunities for the Bay of Plenty’s future,” Mr Joyce says. “It outlines the potential of the primary sector, manufacturing and tourism industries in particular to grow the region. . . .

Kiwifruit industry set for strong growth, thanks Prime Minister for support:

The kiwifruit industry came together to thank the Government for its support with efforts to manage the bacterial disease Psa, when the Prime Minister John Key visited Zespri’s Mt Maunganui office this afternoon.

Zespri chairman Peter McBride says senior representatives of postharvest, growers and industry organisations took the opportunity to show the Prime Minister how far the industry has come since Psa was first discovered in New Zealand in 2010.

“It’s hard to recall now just how uncertain and dark those days were, when we simply did not know how the industry could continue with Psa. . .



Drought’s official

February 13, 2015

This summer has been like those I remember as a child with day after day of hot, sunny weather.

Those were summers when we were plagued by drought just like this one, which is now official:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has today officially declared the drought conditions on the east coast of the South Island as being a medium-scale adverse event.

“This is recognition of the extreme dry conditions farmers and growers are facing, and triggers additional Government support,” says Mr Guy.

The areas affected cover parts of Otago, Canterbury and the Marlborough District.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries has been monitoring the conditions very closely over recent months. Most farmers have coped so far by destocking and using feed supplies, and most will not need extra support. However it’s clear that conditions are only going to get tougher as the seasons change and we need to prepare now.

This week local groups, including Rural Support Trusts and Federated Farmers, have acknowledged the need of medium scale recovery measures to deal with the consequence of the drought.

“Extra Government funding will now be available to Rural Support Trusts who work closely with farmers, providing support and guidance.

“Rural Assistance Payments (RAPs) will also be made available in the next few months. These will be available from Work and Income, through the Ministry of Social Development. They are equivalent to the Jobseeker Support benefit and are available to those in extreme hardship.

“It’s important to note that support is already available from Government agencies in all regions. Farmers should contact IRD if they need help or flexibility with making tax payments, and standard hardship assistance is available from Work and Income.

“Federated Farmers have started their feedline to coordinate supplies, and it’s pleasing to see some banks offering special packages.”

Mr Guy made the announcement today at Opuha Dam in South Canterbury which will run dry in the next few weeks without decent rainfall.

“Many rural people can be reluctant to ask for help, but it is important for them to know that support is available.”

Mr Guy says the Government is also keeping a very close eye on Wairarapa and southern Hawkes Bay which are also suffering from very dry conditions.

What are the criteria for declaring a medium scale adverse event?

  • There are three levels of ‘adverse events’ – localised, medium and national. These can cover events like drought, floods, fire, earthquakes and other natural disasters.
  • The criteria for assessing the scale of an adverse event are:
    • Options available for the community to prepare for and recover from the event;  
    • Magnitude of the event (likelihood and scale of physical impact), and;
    • Capacity of the community to cope economically and socially impact.

Stuart Smith MP's photo.

Stuart Smith MP's photo.


The declaration reinforces the case for more water storage:

Today’s official declaration that the drought conditions on the east coast of the South Island are a medium-scale adverse event strengthens the argument for further national investment in regional water storage, says IrrigationNZ.

“The only way to prevent communities suffering drought in dry summers is through storing alpine water. We do not need to wait for rivers to run dry, for fish to die and for communities to panic. New Zealand has plentiful supply which flows out to sea; we just need to get better at banking water and getting it to the needy places,” says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ CEO.

“The official declaration of drought shows that extended dry weather has a significant impact in New Zealand despite its high levels of rainfall. It means that farmers and communities need help.

“We need to make 2015 the year New Zealand finally learns from drought and gets on with building regional-scale water storage to prevent local distress. There are several projects in the pipeline around the country but they need significant community, business and government support to proceed. This South Canterbury drought will cost New Zealanders millions. It’s time we bit the bullet and had a national conversation around how we manage drought,” says Mr Curtis.

“Water storage and irrigation will allow New Zealand to survive climatic variations like extended dry spells which scientists tell us are on the increase, particularly for those of us living in eastern New Zealand. Drought takes away not only income from farmers; it strips whole communities of water for everything from boating to gardening, tourism businesses that rely on healthy river flows to fish struggling to survive in parched streams. Water storage is not just about propping up irrigation; it supplements all of these community values”, says Mr Curtis.



We’re insulated from the worst affects of drought at home thanks to North Otago Irrigation Company’s scheme, fed from the Waitaki River, which is 99% reliable.

But many dairy farmers rely on dryland farms for winter feed and grazing, both of which will be in tight supply.

Irrigation schemes in other areas are restricting takes and some have had to stop all irrigation.

Dairy farms relying on irrigation have reduced milking and many will have to dry-off cows soon,  more than three months early.

The economic impact of the drought will hit the small businesses which service and supply farms too.

There’s now sufficient, reliable irrigation in North Otago to keep grass and crops growing on many farms and reduce the downstream impact on the local community.

More water storage would give other areas that protection too.


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