East Coast Rural Support Trust co-ordinator John Roberts and facilitator Sarah Donaldson. PHOTO/GIANINA SCHWANECKE

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
gianina.schwanecke@age.co.nz

Months on from the rains that ended the region’s drought, many Wairarapa farmers are still doing it tough and are in desperate need of a break.

“It’s been really busy on farm particularly because of the year we’ve had,” clinical psychologist Sarah Donaldson said.

This year’s drought and the long recovery process had been further exacerbated by staff shortages related to covid-19 and the border closure.

Many of the farmers she had spoken with were yet to have a break and were suffering from “fatigue”.

“For a lot of farmers, it’s a big thing to step off farm.”

John Roberts, Wairarapa regional co-ordinator for the East Coast Rural Support Trust, said the stress was being felt across the sector.

“We are getting a lot of people wanting a break,” he said.

“They have been working right through because of the drought. They couldn’t take a break when they normally would and so now they haven’t had one at all.”

The pair are hoping to create a database of locals who can help provide relief and support to burnt-out farmers.

The database would record what help could be offered, for how long, and whether it would be voluntary or paid, in addition to contact details.

It would help not only Wairarapa farmers, but other regions too, during adverse events such as drought or flooding.

Help could come in many forms, Roberts said.

This included feed donations, house sitting, dropping off a meal, checking on isolated or vulnerable people, jobs on farm, and providing accommodation for off-farm breaks.

Roberts said there was a real need for relief milkers especially, as the dairy and contracting industry faced particularly severe labour shortages.

  • Anyone interested can get in touch with the trust by emailing JohnP.roberts19@gmail.com or texting 027 200 0851.
  • More information or help from the trust can be found by calling 0800 787 254 or online at rural-support.org.nz