'Hero farmer' saves flood victims
Two Northland motorists trapped by flood waters were saved in the nick of time by a 74-year-old farmer driving his tractor to move some cows.
About 6am this morning Senior Sergeant Peter Robinson came across two cars stranded by flood waters at the bottom of Lemon's Hill on State Highway 11, Kawakawa.
As it happened, Kawakawa farmer Harry Shepherd - who has made something of a habit of rescuing flooded motorists - was also passing by in his tractor.
Robinson asked him to help rescue the trapped people - and climbed into the front end loader of the tractor to direct it.
By this time the water was about 1m deep and still rising.
The current was moving quite quickly, so urgent action was needed to get the people out, police say.
Shepherd slowly drove the tractor into the flood water and Robinson stood in the loader and pulled the people to safety.
As he managed to get the female driver from her car, the car floated off.
Shepherd said the police officer did really well.
"He was very careful and managed to calm the lady down as he got near her. He convinced her to get into the bucket with him, which wasn't easy. Her car got taken away by the current just after we got her in. I was glad to help out. It really made my day."
Acting Far North Area Commander Senior Sergeant Rhys Johnston describes Harry Shepherd as a "hero farmer".
Shepherd has lived in the area for 51 years and this is the second time he has come to the rescue during floods.
In the 100-year flood of 2007, Shepherd got up in the night to rescue a group that had been washed away in their vehicle.
The river had flooded all the paddocks and the car was stranded out in the middle.
On that occasion the river was too deep for a tractor, so Shepherd took his boat out and motored across to rescue the group one at a time.
Thanks again Harry!