We are now 5 weeks on from the destructive cyclone that changed the landscape of our industry in a moment but will impact us for years to come. I still haven’t gone and seen all the worst affected areas yet as I’ve been busy getting to grips with my own orchard damage and trying to harvest fruit.
I’ve been encouraged by the huge support our local community has provided, they have rallied around our industry and helped in so many ways. I’m aware of people pitching in to clean out flooded homes and garages, stand up fences, remove debris, scrape away silt from around tree trunks and remove river weed, slash and flood damaged fruit off trees. The task at hand is daunting but our community has helped us get started. I must also mention the groups of people who have been driving around distributing meals, food, and water – all your support is very much appreciated.
Our growers are banding together in a way I haven’t seen before – whether it be smaller growers, larger growers or corporates, the willingness to support one another is very special. This will help unite and strengthen our industry as we set a new vision for our industry to “Grow Back Better”.
In my capacity as President of HBFA, I’m involved with a Task Force that is developing and recommending a framework that government can adopt to inform the distribution of additional cyclone support. As you will appreciate this is a complex body of work, but I’m encouraged by the constructive, pragmatic and proactive approach that the Task Force is taking on behalf of all of us who have sustained damage from Cyclone Gabrielle.
The road ahead will be a long one, but it’ll be easier if you share the journey. I’d encourage all of you to keep talking to your neighbours, your friends and family. Don’t try and do it all on your own. I’d also remind you that The Association is only a phone call away – come to our events and stay connected.