Christmas deliveries and 'summer camp' of repairs get farmers back on track
A farm ute and trailer swathed in red and white bunting, with a white bearded man in the driver's seat, has hit the road to deliver Christmas presents to rural children in south Marlborough.
Blenheim builder Tyler Fifield said the vehicle planned to visit 30 to 40 families seriously affected by the aftermath of the quake over the weekend.
A tandem trailer would be laden with donated children's toys plus other items including beer, bottles of wine, travel vouchers and gift hampers.
Fifield founded the NZ Farming Facebook page two years ago, which had become a forum to connect people with family and friends after last month's 7.8-magnitude quake.
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The group had teamed up with Christchurch-based Facebook group Andrea's Angels to help quake-hit families find fencers and builders to volunteer their time for rural quake-struck communities.
Fifield said if enough labourers put their hands up, a "summer camp" would be held at a rural property where volunteers could share a beer after a good day's work helping farmers get their lives back on track.
Andrea's Angels founder Andrea Roberts said some people had been quick to volunteer, but they were in urgent need of fencers and builders so farmers could manage their stock again.
"We're especially looking for people who have experience in fencing. Fencing is a major problem for the farmers out there. It's an animal welfare issue, really. We're also going to build some cattle, deer and sheep yards," Roberts said.
Andrea's Angels had sprouted from a desire to link people in need post-quake with people wanting to give, Roberts said.
The group was still collecting donations of household goods but quickly realised many rural residents could not cope with the scale of repairs.
Many companies donated building and fencing materials, but they only had a fraction of the volunteers they needed.
Tradies could be flown in from Christchurch or they could bus the alternative State Highway 1 route, but Roberts hoped volunteers from Marlborough would drive down, even just for a couple of days.
The group also needed a beekeeper and an experienced digger driver who could manage the quake-ravaged terrain.
The repairs project would start shortly after Christmas, but when and how long for depended on how many people volunteered and how much time they could spare.
"It's summer, and they need their stock sorted. So we need to get volunteers in there ASAP. And then it's a bit more of a relaxed summer for them."
A shearing shed would be converted to a camp ground base and cooks had volunteered to keep the tradies well fed.
"It's going to be a really good group of people hanging out over summer, and you'll be giving back and helping people as well. It'll be a good time all round," Roberts said.
"We just need the manpower to get the ball rolling."
To volunteer, send your availability to Roberts by private message on the Andrea's Angels Facebook page, or the NZ Farming Facebook page.
- The Marlborough Express