Support the Guardian

Available for everyone, funded by readers

Opinion: Farm view with Duncan Humm from NZ Farming

Opinion: Farm view with Duncan Humm from NZ Farming

I thought I’d start off this attempt at a column by sharing one of my favourite stories this year from behind the scenes of my role at NZ Farming, quite a serendipitous full circle yarn.

The day the immediate aftermath of the Kaikoura Earthquake, A group of Blenheim based lads bought together by NZ Farming founder Tyler Fifield had been doing what they could with their building skills and tools to help anyone they could find needing help with securing/weather proofing homes and then also onto the massive task some farmers were having on farm with fencing, water supplies etc.

By chance when word got around they were heading down most days to the Clarence Valley someone from Renwick Preschool got in touch to see if they could deliver some care packages wherever they were heading, no problem!

These awesome boxes were filled of basic supplies but also home baking and some great notes of support from the kids at the preschool.

One of the recipients was Sarah Murray and her family, we were one of the first to make it up their driveway after the event and at the time they were exceptionally grateful to know there were others thinking of them while they were facing such a colossal challenge of rebuilding their property.

Fast forward a few years and Sarah’s family had moved up to another farm close to Blenheim and their kids had begun going to the same Renwick Preschool.

If that itself wasn’t an interesting coincidence, it was about to come full circle.

Once it started becoming apparent just how bad Cyclone Gabrielle was shaping up, Sarah and others from the Preschool immediately got to work putting together organising a truck for the ferry to take a load of boxed up care packages north.

As the truck set off for the Ferry they didn’t know where it was going, only knowing it was needed so Sarah thought to reach out to us, as we had begun trying our best to start connecting those with something to give to those that would be in need.

By this stage I’d been linked up with a few people with their own small planes that were equipped for landing in isolated places and most importantly well skilled and experienced.

All we needed was local intel for places to go and favourable weather to dry most farm airstrips out.

Once we had some leads it was established that we could store the goods with Jenn and Rob Evans at Smedley Station near Tikokino, they also had a good airstrip but the track to it was damaged and in the process of being opened back up.

We had a window for the planes to fly so we needed a plan B, which in a flurry of looking at some maps and then asking around I found another strip we could use belonging to James and Kate Butler, who without hesitation also offered to help with the logistics of getting planes loaded with boxes bought down from Smedley, even loaning their own generator to an isolated family, which required all the seats and a door to be taken off a plane to get it loaded!

And so within the first week of such a terrible event, and a huge effort by many, Sarah had been able to pay forward the generosity and kindness as a parent of kids from the same Renwick Preschool.

I was proud to have been one of the many involved with making it happen, I’m also glad to be able to have the chance to share this story with you.

by Duncan Humm