Prime Minister Christopher Luxon arrived in Hawke’s Bay on Sunday to meet cyclone-hit farmers and listen to red-zoned residents’ concerns.
“There needs to be more consultation. Nobody apart from the chap who put the yellow sticker on has ever been to the house,” one person told him.
Then Luxon jumped in a ute for a tour of the Bearsley’s silt-covered orchard – land they’ve been farming for generations.
“It’s been absolutely overwhelming for my family. My dad and my mum have been here 48 years and we were hit, 95 percent of what they had gone. It’s just gone,” Puketapu grower Paula Bearsley told Newshub.
It’s already cost $2m to clean up and she told Luxon the job is far from over.
“On our land, we’ve got about 100,000 cubes left of silt to move. That’s 12,500 truckloads,” she said.
But the region’s Silt Recovery Taskforce ground to a halt last year when Government funds dried up, leaving jobs unfinished.
“We were meant to have had all this silt and debris taken in December. But unfortunately, the Silt Removal Taskforce has run out of money and is winding down,” Esk Valley farmer Donald Crosby told Newshub.
“It’s making it really impossible to run a business to be honest, because there are hundreds of people employed by it and all of a sudden they get a phone call that ‘oh there’s no work until we get more money’.”
That money was finally announced on Sunday to the tune of $40m.
“We know that things need to be moving quicker and our job as central Government is to work out what can we be doing to try and accelerate and pick up the pace here. We know that there is an awful lot more to do,” Luxon said.