Following significant flooding resulting from a one in a 100 year rain event in Canterbury in late May, the government has offered assistance to affected farmers and landowners through their Enhanced Taskforce Green (ETFG) programme, and CVNZ have come on board to help out. ETFG is administered by the Ministry for Social Development (MSD) and is a relief programme that can be instigated when there is a significant emergency or event that requires unskilled labour to help with cleanups after major weather events. The government has allocated $500,000 towards the cleanup. CVNZ was chosen to provide this support through our connections with MSD and our work running Conservation Work Skills programmes over the last few years.
The degree of damage from the flooding in May was significant and wide-ranging, resulting mostly from the major Canterbury rivers over flowing their banks; these are significant braided river systems and include the Rakaia, the Ashburton, the Rangitata and the Waimakariri, and farmers and landowners continue to be impacted by the damage. Much of this damage involves fencing and debris in paddocks, and while farmers can claim insurance for flood damage, this doesn’t cover clearing paddocks or removing damaged fences. This is where ETFG and CVNZ come in.
Dave Sharp (Health and Safety), and Dylan Steeples (Conservation Work Skills team leader) initially pulled together 2 teams of 5 job seekers to help out with the work over eight weeks, and this has now increased to 5 teams as requests have continued to roll in. Team members and team leaders now total 25, with 4 teams travelling from Christchurch and one based in Ashburton. Teams receive training in Health and Safety. Tasks include clearing debris from fence lines, streams and riparian plantings, cleaning buildings, fixing fences and other general repairs as needed. The teams will be helping wherever they are needed throughout the region. A local farmer, Daryl Butterick says: “This is a massive disaster and we seem to have born the brunt of it.”
The first two teams of 5 and 7 crew have spent the last two weeks in the Ashburton, Selwyn and Waimakariri districts, and have helped out on over 17 farms, for up to 3 days on each farm, although a team has been based at one of the farms for a fortnight, which gives an indication of the scale of the damage. Three more teams are now on the ground, and with 90 farms on the list they’ll be kept busy over the coming weeks. Feedback from farmers and land owners has been positive and the teams’ efforts have been well received. While the cleanup remains a monumental task, the teams have been chipping away and are continuing to make good progress. The programme will run for the next 8-12 weeks depending on demand.