I feel hugely fortunate to be writing this column from Europe, after receiving a very special invitation to the opening of the New Zealand Liberation Museum, Te Arawhata, in Le Quesnoy [pronounced Leck con wah], France.
The invitation was extended out of gratefulness to the people of the Tararua District for contributing funds to this special place. In 2018 we, along with Hastings, Palmerston North City, Thames Coromandel, Timaru, Whanganui, and the Waipā District Councils, contributed from our Heritage funds, towards the wonderful concept of establishing a permanent NZ War Museum in Europe.
Te Arawhata means “the ladder” and is named for the Kiwi soldiers’ use of a ladder to scale the town’s protective walls in 1918 in order to free the citizens of Le Quesnoy. Although we suffered heavy losses, our brave soldiers managed this extraordinary feat while preserving all civilian lives within the town.
Two soldiers, Colin Thompson from Dannevirke and Llewelyn Gibson, originally from Pahiatua, were among the 122 New Zealanders killed at Le Quesnoy and the people of the town remember the sacrifice made by New Zealand. Their gratitude has resulted in streets bearing New Zealand names and our flag flying alongside the French flags.
The opening of the Museum will take place tomorrow and I am so looking forward to taking in this emotional and immersive experience, which New Zealand’s own Weta Workshop has created. I feel hugely privileged to be part of this opening and look forward to sharing more about my experience upon my return.
On our side of the world in Tararua, Spring has certainly made itself felt with lovely sunshine, but also some incredibly strong winds.
Near record-breaking gusts of 246km/hr were recorded at Cape Turnagain in the middle of last month, and although we are no strangers to these kinds of conditions, days of intense wind and resulting power outages, are challenging for our rural and coastal communities. PowerCo and Scan Power have been working hard across the district to restore power in often extremely challenging conditions, and we are grateful to these teams for their hard work.
To date, the Mayoral Disaster Relief Fund has had a total of 106 applications with over $115,000.00 allocated to affected Tararua residents, community groups, farmers and businesses. We want to again extend our warmest thanks to all of those who supported this fund with donations; it really does make a difference to our cyclone-impacted communities.
Last month our Tararua recovery office hosted Ben Jessep and Simon Taylor of the Wairarapa recovery team, to share learnings for our respective response and recovery experiences so far. Sharing this kind of information is important for future preparedness. Being able to learn from each other and seeing what was successful, can only be positive for both of our regions going forward.
In another positive step forward, our building team visited yellow stickered properties again in early September and has now confirmed that all properties in the Tararua District that were categorized with yellow stickers have now been lifted.
Furthermore, cyclone-impacted farmers and growers in both Tararua and Wairarapa may benefit from the news that Kānoa, the Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit, have extended their Expressions of Interest period through to 27 October 2023 for the North Island Weather Event [NIWE] Primary Producer Finance Scheme.
The NIWE Primary Producer Finance Scheme provides concessionary loans and equity finance to severely impacted, land-based primary sector businesses, such as farms and orchards. Farmers and growers who are unsure whether they qualify or who may not have all the information needed for a full application at this stage, are encouraged to put forward an Expression of Interest.