Fonterra water deliveries to drought-hit region 'a real morale boost'

Northland's three mayors have heaped praise on Fonterra for helping get water to drought-affected communities.

After months of low rainfall, rivers and streams throughout the region are running at critical lows.  

The dairy giant has been delivering tanker-loads of water as their tankers travel around the region to pick up milk.

The operation has seen the tankers delivering at least 90,000 litres of water a day to Kaikohe, Kaitaia, Dargaville and Rawene.

In a joint statement, Kaipara District Mayor Dr Jason Smith, Far North District Mayor John Carter and Whangarei District Mayor Sheryl Mai described the deliveries as "acts of kindness from Fonterra tanker operators in the region".

They said even with considerable preparation for a dry summer, many farmers were feeling the burn with no rain in sight.

"Farmers might not show it, but they're under real pressure as their crops, livestock and livelihoods are increasingly threatened by this drought, so these deliveries are a real morale boost," said Kaipara District Mayor Jason Smith.

"The seasonal shut-down of the Maungaturoto Fonterra factory starts today, which will allow increased water to be allocated to Maungaturoto municipal supply and also water carriers in the area."

"Acts of kindness like this are the mark of good corporate citizens," says Whangarei District Mayor Sheryl Mai.

"Many of the farms up here are in isolated areas, making it time-consuming and expensive to access water at the moment, so these deliveries are appreciated," commented Far North District Mayor John Carter.

The mayor's said recently announced $2 million from the Provincial Growth Fund to set up temporary water supplies in Kaikohe and Kaitaia, as well as the $80,000 package for the Northland Rural Support Trust were also welcomed.

"The trust provides support and guidance to farmers on how to deal with pressures such as droughts, so we thank the government for their support.  We'll need to work with the community and keep a close eye on the forecast over the next month at least," said Dr Smith.

Fonterra told RNZ that while its priority would always be picking up farmers' milk, it was also important to help out communities in their time of need and it was treating each request for help on a case-by-case basis.