Wairarapa farmers band together to help drought-stricken Hawke's Bay

Hawke's Bay farmland in drought.
Hawke's Bay farmland in drought. Photo credit: RNZ

Farmers in Wairarapa are banding together to send feed north to their drought-stricken neighbours in Hawke's Bay.

Hawke's Bay farmers have said they're under huge pressure as they deal with bare paddocks, hungry stock and limited supplementary feed.

The challenges of the drought have been compounded by the closure of saleyards and reduced processing at meatworks due to Covid-19.

Wairarapa farmers Sophie and Daniel Hansen were inspired to set up the Rapa Feed Run after learning of similar efforts in Australia during the recent bushfire season.

Sophie Hansen said farmers in the region were asked to contribute whatever excess feed they could, with volunteers taking care of logistics.

She said the initiative has only been running for 48 hours, but the response had already been overwhelming, with over 300 bales donated so far.

"[The] majority are just farmers who've got one or two bales which they know they can spare for their winter feed, but we've also had a few very generous farmers who have given us, have donated through a whole unit load of hay baleage.

It had been very dry in Wairarapa up until the region received substantial rainfall in late March, which had helped trigger some grass growth.

"If we hadn't received that, we could easily be in the same predicament as the farmers up in Hawke's Bay."

She encouraged Wairarapa farmers and their families to send a message of hope by spray painting a message on their bale. She said this could be their farm name, a picture or a simple 'Kia Kaha'.

"Just so then, when the farmers out, in the middle of their farm feeding out by themselves, they will see the bale and know there is someone else out there who is helping them, who is thinking of them and giving them that support," she said.