Friday, 01 December 2023 07:55

Team effort to rebuild fences

Written by  Mark Daniel
Two new Case IH and New Holland tractors, and Kinghitter post rammers, are allowing fencing crews to operate as quickly and efficiently as possible. Two new Case IH and New Holland tractors, and Kinghitter post rammers, are allowing fencing crews to operate as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Nine months after Cyclone Gabrielle struck, affected farmers are slowly getting back on their feet, and many have the CNH Industrial initiative ‘Commence the Re-Fence’ to thank for helping relieve some of the pain of the massive rebuild.

The initiative saw CNHI donate a Case IH JX100 and a New Holland TD5.90, while dealer Stevenson & Taylor loaned two Kinghitter post rammers. Federated Farmers has also involved fencing contractors and ‘Farmy Army’ volunteers who worked to rebuild fencing on more than 40 farms in the Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne regions since June.

As an example, Greg and Mark Morice, who farm 88ha in the Hawke’s Bay area, operated an apple orchard and livestock operation, losing 2ha of the orchard after 200 tonnes of timber from the neighbouring Tutaekuri River came through the apple orchard, with the remainder of the trees removed in subsequent weeks due to damage.

Ewes and cows were able to be moved to higher ground on the property, and the family’s home was also safe on high ground, but hundreds of metres of fencing, water pumps and other infrastructure was washed away.

“Federated Farmers got in touch with us some time later and the ‘Commence the Re- Fence’ work started from there, starting in July,” Greg said. “They were able to re-fence our 1.2km boundary in three days. It was brilliant – they were a very professional fencing crew, with a new tractor and rammer.”

With the prospect of a six-figure sum to replant the orchard, the current plan was to plant a vegetable crop this year, followed by winter grass for the next two to three years, before developing a new orchard with new apple trees.

“With all the other jobs we had to do around the place, it would have taken us ages to get onto that fencing job, so in terms of labour it saved us thousands of dollars. We provided the materials for the work, but with a significantly reduced income from the farm; to save that much money is significant for us,” says Greg.

John Kilmister runs JK Fencing and Construction, based in the Hawke’s Bay area, and is the face of Commence the Re-Fence. He has two teams on the project who spend three days on each farm.

“It’s been really satisfying to be involved with this, as farmers are so glad to see you, and so appreciative. On some places we’ve been to, there are still people living in caravans because they can’t go back to their homes. As well as the financial impact, there’s a mental health impact, too, so for some people I think it’s just been good for them to see a new face and have someone new to talk to.”

Kilmister says the two new Case IH and New Holland tractors, and post rammers, had allowed the fencing crews to operate as quickly and efficiently as possible, and negotiate some tricky terrain.

“The hardest thing when we started was access onto the farms, particularly the hillier country, while in recent months ongoing rain has made access difficult, so having the best machinery and equipment available has been even more critical,” he says.

Commence The Re Fence 2 FBTW

Commence the Re-Fence Initiative plans to help with fencing on at least 100 properties.

Matt Truebridge and his family live at Brooklands Station, a sheep and beef finishing farm of 800ha near Puketapu. The property suffered extensive flooding, uprooting fences, carving channels through roads and depositing enormous amounts of silt and debris.

“It is a situation where you find yourself unable to comprehend and not knowing where to start the clean-up. Our local school community leaped into action with support and recovery agencies enlisted,” he says.

“It was through the school we learned about Commence the Re-Fence. It’s a fantastic scheme to be able to tap into when stock-proofing our farms was such a high priority. It was a real boost to our recovery and meant one less job to worry about.”

The efforts of Commence the Re-Fence continue, with plans to help with fencing on at least 100 properties by the time it wraps up. At the end of the project, Federated Farmers in conjunction with CNH Industrial will donate the two tractors to two cyclone-affected farmers who have been part of the initiative.

“To know that this re-building program is making such a difference where it’s needed most is very gratifying and CNH Industrial, in conjunction with Stevenson & Taylor, are proud to be a part of it. We look forward to giving away the Case IH and New Holland tractors that were donated to this cause once Commence the Re-Fence is concluded, and know they’ll go to two very deserving farm businesses that have been through so much this year,” said Murray Grant, CNH Industrial commercial business manager – New Zealand.

To nominate a deserving farmer for one of the tractors, go to the website

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