NZ government is working through support requests from hail-affected growers

West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O'Connor has issued a statement saying that the New Zealand government hasn't committed to any specific support for Tasman District growers affected by the Boxing Day hail storm, but is working through requests for help. O’Connor who holds several portfolios in the Labour Government, including agriculture and rural communities as well as trade and export growth.

One of the requests was for government support to help retain permanent staff “and then to look at the ability to have the seasonal staff needed to get the trees and the vines in shape for next season”, said O’Connor.

Grower Julian Raine says some people are in a dire situation after the hail storm, including himself. Raine said he believed many people did not understand how much damage had been caused by the hail storm. “There’s rotting fruit but in amongst the rotting fruit, there’s good fruit. For some people it’s dire. We’ve got to move pretty quickly on it.” Raine said he was fully insured but expected to recoup just 20 per cent of what had been lost.

O’Connor said the government would look at support for the growers to retain staff. further quoted him as saying: “Clearly the impact on employment and the reduced opportunities means that some of that will come through MSD [Ministry of Social Development] by way of support and if we can look to redirect that and front-load that through the growers then that may be one way forward but I can't speak on behalf of other ministers' portfolio areas other than that we will continue to work with them to keep things moving.”

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