22 Sep 2015

Gisborne farmers left cut off by floods

9:04 am on 22 September 2015

The flooding in rural areas around Gisborne has left farmers cut off on their properties.

Sam Hain on his Waikura Station farm.

Sam Hain on his Waikura Station farm. Photo: Sam Hain

Gisborne Civil Defence said the heavy rain has forced many rural roads to close as well as State Highway 2 between the city and Opotoki.

Sam Hain is part of a family that runs Waikura Station, a hill country farm 50 kms west of Gisborne.

He said if he tried to walk anywhere the water would be over his head, so he has spent the day chopping wood and staying by the fire with his family.

"Most farmers are cut off. I know the road is cut off to Te Karaka to our other farm, everybody up this valley is cut off. We're well flooded in. There's probably one and a half metres of water over the road at the moment down where it peaks.

"If I was walking along the road it would probably be to the top of my head, it would be over the roof of the car. I can't see us going out any time before lunchtime tomorrow."

Provincial president for Gisborne Wairoa Federated Farmers, Sandra Faulkner, said rural roads would be affected by the sheer amount of water that was coming off the hills.

"There will be bridges compromised, there'll be probably subsidence - slips, rockfalls, all of those things - and it's up to the roadmen, who we really all appreciate at times like this, to do the best they can do get them open," Ms Faulkner said.

"What it comes down to more often than not is family life. It's getting kids to school, it's wives or partners getting out to work if they work in the city so it's all of those things that it tends to impact on as much as anything else."

Ms Faulkner said the Poverty Bay flats were a significant cropping area and seed fields would be destroyed.

She said with the fields so waterlogged, even getting back in them will be a challenge for a while.

Most farmers west of Gisborne are cut off, says Sam Hain.

Most farmers west of Gisborne are cut off, says Sam Hain. Photo: Sam Hain

"You're talking annual crops and vegetable produce. The flats have certainly suffered some significant surface flooding and so areas that have got seed or fresh young crops, they're probably lost at this stage so they'll need replanting, never mind the fact that it will put the cropping calendar back at least a week before the tractors can get back on to some land again."

However, Ms Faulkner said the rain had been desperately needed and a good thing for the district.

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