Town and country, whether in need or not, there is no divide
I have appreciated watching the so-called Farmy Army working to clear up the devastation in Christchurch.
It makes me proud to be a farmer and of being an elected farming leader in our federation.
It’s great to see some positive coverage of farmers in the media and the term Farmy Army is in nearly everyone’s vocabulary.
It seems that a simple off-the-cuff description by Christchurch mayor Bob Parker during a media briefing has become something more.
I think the term, Farmy Army, summarises the farmer persona quite nicely. Farmers aren’t a bunch of rich individuals ‘‘creaming it’’ with our milk prices (as the media seems to obsessively portray us). Farmers are a community.
The next assumption is that we are a rural community, somehow separate from those living in the cities. Absolutely not true.
Farmers are a part of New Zealand, those living in the cities, our brethren.
We sometimes wonder if those in the cities feel the same way about us. Because when farmers throw their weight behind a cause, this gruff, get-down-to-work mentality works a treat.
The response of volunteers to the Federated Farmers’ Farmy Army from the Canterbury region and throughout New Zealand, including the Waikato, has been massive.
To do the ‘‘hard yards’’ with barrow and shovel at their own cost actually created a major logistical challenge to the Federated Farmers’ Christchurch Earthquake administration team.
Once one farmer goes the rest jump in to help as well. The very large number of volunteers registering proved that point.
I doubt any of those farmers were sitting there with a ‘‘let’s go help the townies’’ mindset. They were going to help their countrymen, their community, their city. No rural/city divide here. They were suffering too.
Winter is approaching with autumn night time temperatures in single figures and getting colder as days tick on.
The need to help affected families move to warm temporary housing is one concern being conveyed to me.
The dramatic need for all segments of New Zealand society to muck in and help Christchurch in any way possible goes beyond the emotive.
It’s amazing when you think of goods, food and water donated.
The money donated through Red Cross and the like, the volunteer manpower across the long hours, the shelter offered and the international support.
This has become more than a Canterbury issue.
The sheer loss of life and damage to infrastructure can’t help but have a flow-on effect to our economy, directly and indirectly.
Just the damage to the power supply, water and sewerage will cost for years to
all the come. I think it’s time for us to see some sensible, bipartisan debate in Parliament on the very serious issues that now need to be addressed concerning funding support for Christchurch.
It needs both a short-term and a longterm vision of where we go from here.
Even as a lay person, I envisage a 15-year programme for central Christchurch alone.
The South Island’s regional economies need a vibrant commercial business and social structure that only a fully functional city can deliver.
It is a no brainer that New Zealand would be better off overall as well.
From here the social component is also very important.
We have to encourage the families who have left to eventually return to their city, but also support those families who want to leave permanently.
I am very confident that we will see the Canterbury region recover. It may take some time but it will happen and we will make it happen.
STEW WADEY Waikato Federated Farmers president