Friday, 21 June 2024 11:55

Donated tractors welcome news

Written by  Mark Daniel
Lil Poulton with the family’s new Case IH tractor. Others in the picture, from left are Robby Smith, Murray Grant, Terry Copeland, John Kilmister and Jim Galloway. Lil Poulton with the family’s new Case IH tractor. Others in the picture, from left are Robby Smith, Murray Grant, Terry Copeland, John Kilmister and Jim Galloway.

When Cyclone Gabrielle hit in February 2023, it left an estimated $13.5 billion worth of damage across New Zealand.

After its effects became apparent, the Commence the Re- Fence initiative was born, with Federated Farmers involving fencing contractors and the ‘Farmy Army’ volunteers to assist, while machinery dealer Stevenson & Taylor, in conjunction with CNH, donated two tractors – a Case IH JX100 and a New Holland TD5.90 – to help farmers in the Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne areas reinstate kilometres of lost fencing.

Now there’s a welcome reason to smile for at least two of the farm families who were impacted by the disaster.

Once Commence the Re-Fence came to an end, the intention was to donate the two tractors to farmers seen as in need of some additional support. People were asked to nominate a farmer severely impacted by the disaster and who was seen as in need of some extra help. After dozens of nominations were received, CNH network development business manager Murray Grant oversaw the tough task for those making the final decision.

“Deciding who would receive them was a very moving and difficult experience, especially considering many of the nominations were done by neighbours or community leaders who knew firsthand what people had been through. It was inspiring to see the resilience, courage and bravery of these farmers in the wake of the disaster, and the amazing support everybody provided to help people get back on their feet,” Grant says.

In early June the two recipients were announced, with Lil Poulton putting the Case IH tractor to work on her property in the Patoka district, and Colin Skudder from Tokomaru Bay taking home the New Holland, both farmers overwhelmed by the gesture.

Poulton and her children Ruby, Henry and Oscar have a 440ha property where they run a sheep and beef operation. They lost a lot of fences and two bridges during the cyclone, as well as tracks and culverts severely impacted by erosion.

The Commence the Re-Fence project helped reinstate some of the fencing, a bridge has been rebuilt and Lil said they were almost back to pre-cyclone production levels. But it’s been a tough road, made even harder with the loss of Lil’s husband Rob only a few months after Gabrielle swept through.

With a 20-plus year-old tractor doing all the work up to now, the new tractor, she said, would be of great assistance.

Colin Skudder has welcomed his new New Holland tractor to the farm.

“It’s just so incredible to have been given this tractor and we’re so grateful and very humbled.

“The level of support we’ve received has been amazing, and to me it shows our rural communities are just the best people,” Poulton says.

Colin Skudder is the manager of Marotiri Farm Partnership in Tokomaru Bay on the East Coast. While the property was badly affected by the cyclone, with stock, fencing and land lost, it was Colin’s efforts as the Civil Defence Lead for Tokomaru Bay that secured him the New Holland TD5.90.

Skudder says he “felt a bit overwhelmed and humbled”.

“Because, to be honest, there were so many who were worthy of the nomination. We all worked so hard over the five weeks we were locked in Tokomaru Bay,” he says.

During the enforced isolation after the cyclone, Skudder was instrumental in clearing a track that allowed the transportation of hospital staff, medical supplies, food and water as well as helping tradesmen to get to Te Puia Springs daily.

Skudder’s nominee says, “For two weeks, no vehicles could get in and out of Te Puia Springs and Colin’s track, as well as the expertise to drive the track in hazardous conditions, was vital for the welfare of staff, patients and residents of Te Puia Springs.

“If it wasn’t for Colin and his innovative transport solutions, staff of Te Puia hospital, who had been working 24/7, would not have been relieved, staff taking over would not have arrived, the shop would not have had power and residents and the hospital would not have received medication or gas to cook with.”

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