'It's getting dire': Hawke's Bay authorities ask for drought status declaration

Authorities in Hawke's Bay are calling on the Government to declare a drought status in the region, unlocking extra support for those affected.

Drought conditions in Northland, Auckland, Waikato and more recently in the Gisborne, Manawatu, Rangitikei, and Tararua districts have been classified a medium-scale adverse event by the Agriculture Minister.

The move triggers welfare support and resources to adversely-affected farmers and landowners.

The Hawke's Bay Drought Committee wants to see the same classification made for the region, in response to the persistent dry conditions notably being experienced in Central Hawke's Bay and Hastings Districts.

The committee is made up of representatives of the Hawke's Bay Regional Council, Federated Farmers, Civil Defence, the Rural Support Trust and other agencies.

Drought Committee chair and regional councillor Will Foley said conditions were challenging.

Conditions in the region are being described as the same as this aerial image taken above Central Hawke's Bay in March 2013.
Conditions in the region are being described as the same as this aerial image taken above Central Hawke's Bay in March 2013. Photo credit: Supplied

"It's getting dire south of Hastings and in Central Hawke's Bay and has been heading in that direction for some time. We also have issues other than climates playing out at the moment, such as beef and deer Tuberculosis movement controls and Coronavirus," said Foley.

"We want farmers to know that they have our support and willingness to help. 

I also want to note that if people have ready access to water, they should be conscious and sensitive to the fact that other people do not."

Mayor Alex Walker support from the Government was needed 

"I'm seeing people where normal access to water is just not there. They don't have access to water from a tap. 

"They can't get water to their stock and there's a level of need that is not being met," said Mayor Walker.

"We want to support farmers that have a need and help them to make decisions into next season and beyond.".

South of Hastings, farmers have needed to move stock off land and dip into winter feed, while Central Hawke's Bay had also been affected. 

"The Ruataniwha Plains and many rivers and streams in the south of the region were under long-term water take bans from below the Ruahine Ranges and extending out to southern coastal properties."

During February, most areas of Hawke's Bay were very dry and received less than 10 percent of usual rainfall after three months of below-normal rainfall. 

Temperatures in February 2020 were also three degrees (Celsius) hotter than other previously recorded average February temperatures.