Happy New Year to everyone.
The weather has been kind to our farmers, with minimal water restrictions in place over the district when many other areas are experiencing less rain. El Nino appears to be unpredictable at present. Our message remains the same – be prepared.
As we approach the anniversary of Cyclone Gabrielle, we are reminded of the enormous impact felt in our northern rural and coastal communities. We remain grateful for the assistance given to our communities when they needed it most and the support from Government in our recovery. More than $34 million was received for roading in the initial response and a further application has been made for $55m. It will be a long recovery but the progress made in 12 months has been a real credit to everyone involved. We can never forget the scale of this event. It was only the third national state of emergency declared and evidence of the event remains in our landscape and that of our Hawke’s Bay neighbours.
Our farmers and roads will face multi year challenges on the road to recovery. The generousity of the community, our neighbours and our country during this event has been amazing and we remain extremely grateful for the support we have received with over $300,000 donated to the Cyclone Gabrielle Mayoral Relief Fund. We have taken a slow and steady approach to distributing this fund to ensure we are able to help as many in need as possible. In our January council meeting it was resovled to open the fund to larger application amounts of up to $10,000 for individuals and $30,000 for businesses. Applications are on council’s website and we will advertise this widely. Ninety three applications have been supported in a small way to ensure we were able to help as many as possible. Through the Tararua On Track Fund the Government supported our rural communities with a further $1m funding to assist farms impacted with 126 applications being received totalling $5.3m, this clearly demonstrated the need.
We are grateful for the level of support we have received from central government in roading and grants. It has all assisted us in our recovery, increased resilience and saved our ratepayers additional cost.
While we still have damage on farm, to homes and on our roads, we have come a long way since February 14th. The district has been strong in spirit and helping each other out which has always been our way. My heartfelt thanks to everyone who has helped us on this journey and for many of us Valentines Day will never be the same again.
Noho ora mai – all the best
Tracey Collis – Mayor