Heavy rain a 'godsend' for Hawke's Bay farmers

Torrential rain has caused flooding and widespread damage in Napier but is being described as a "godsend" for many farmers in the Hawke's Bay region.

Although the worst of the weather subsided on Tuesday mornings, some residents in Napier remain without power and a heavy rain watch is still in place for the North Island's east coast.

But having experienced the worst drought in recent memory last summer, farmers in the area have welcomed the rain as the dry season quickly approaches.

"It's absolutely brilliant timing," said Jim Galloway, president of Hawke's Bay Federated Farmers.

"We've had about 80mm of rain and you can't see where it's gone - it's gone straight in and it's been brilliant for us."

With Napier getting "absolutely hammered" by the rain, some farms in that area were not so lucky he said, "especially the low-lying stuff around the airport and up those valleys close to Napier, there's a lot of land underwater - so hopefully they had a chance to get stock out of the road and the like".

"In Napier, the rain was just so much and so intense no matter what had happened it was still going to be an issue," Galloway told Dominic George on Magic Talk's Rural Today on Wednesday.

He said because many places in the area had received enough rain in recent weeks, ground conditions were generally in a good condition.

"We've had great rain regularly to keep things growing well but...if you go down 200-300mm it is very, very dry. So this will put some water down which will last for quite a bit of time now. Some of the streams and springs haven't been running well even yet from last year so this will be a godsend for everyone," he said.

"It will do more good than harm for most of us [but] there are those ones near Napier that have been hammered with the low-lying stuff which has gone well underwater."

The heavy rain comes after a recent report by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council forecast more extreme conditions over the coming decades due to climate change.

Although there would be less rainfall, causing harsher droughts, wildfires and crop damage, the report warned of more severe "extreme, rare rainfall" events.

Galloway said although farmers were generally positive about the short term situation - despite ongoing concerns around new freshwater rules and water storage - he admitted the future forecast weighed on people's minds.

"This year the actual grass growth in the spring has been good and stock performance, lamb survival is good - so [things are] generally not too bad in the short term. 

"It's the long term stuff that's got people thinking."