Fencing materials ‘good morale support’

On the road again. . .Pictured getting ready to transport 3000 deer-fence posts to Hawke's Bay late last week are (from left) Wilkins Farming company staff member Hamish Boyte, Switzers Valley Transport driver Chris Butler, Wilkins Farming Company drivers Shawn (Fraggle) Cross and Neal Forsyth. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Truckloads of fence posts from Northern Southland have been a great morale-booster for farmers in Hawke’s Bay in the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle.

Earlier this week, a convoy of five trucks owned by Wilkins Farming and Switzer Valley Transport arrived in the region with 3000 deer posts and other fencing materials.

The project was initiated by Wilkins Farming Company director Mike Wilkins.

Mr Wilkins said his business sold deer to Hawke’s Bay clients so he knew many of the farmers affected by the cyclone in February.

‘‘Once the storm hit I rang a few of them to find out how they were faring and heard some pretty bad stories.’’

At the time, the Southland and Otago branches of the New Zealand Deer Farmers Association were organising volunteers to help with the clean-up in Hawke’s Bay.

He could not go up himself or send staff to help, as it was a busy time for his business.

However, he always had it in his mind to help out in some way.

Once it was not so busy on the farm, he spoke to some of his business contacts about sending fence posts north.

People were keen to help with the project.

‘‘The key point is everybody I spoke to was happy to help.’’

The operation has farms in Northern Southland, including at Waipounamu and Cattle Flat.

Central Hawke’s Bay farmer Evan Potter has been co-ordinating the effort to get the posts to those who need them.

Mr Potter said the offer of the fenceposts, worth about $100,000, was ‘‘incredibly generous’’.

‘‘In the terms of the people who are getting them, it is a massive pick-me-up and encouragement to keep on going.

‘‘It’s bloody good morale support.’’

The fact that many Southland businesses had supported the project and the posts came from the bottom of the South Island was ‘‘absolutely phenomenal’’.

‘‘It’s pretty hard to get your head around thinking it’s just about as far away as they can come.’’

The fence posts would provide about 16km of fencing, which was afraction of what would be required, he said.

However, ‘‘it’s a really practical way of doing something’’.

Many of the farmers were facing losses of more than $400,000, which included stock, fences and other infrastructure.

Many of the deer were now roaming freely in the hills and being poached by hunters.

The actions of those in Southland sharply contrasted with the poachers’ deeds.

‘‘These sort of events bring out both the worst and the best in people’s personalities.’’

On his farm he lost about $100,000 worth of fencing.

It cost him about $38 a metre to fence his hill-country farm.