The organisers of a community effort in Golden Bay which raised nearly $50,000 to assist those affected by Cyclone Gabrielle are now encouraging other rural communities to adopt their model.
Rural contractors Stacey Strange and her husband Tristan brought The Farmers Bull fundraising event together in three weeks with a local farming friend, Phil Smith after a camping holiday. Phil does a lot of work on mental health issues and had been talking to some Hawkes Bay/Tairāwhiti farmers.
“It was horrendous hearing some of the stresses emerging,” says Stacey. “We’ve had our own flooding issues here and we felt we had to do something to help.”
The trio’s event, held in late March in Takaka had the aim of raising about $5,000.
Stacey Strange and Phil Smith at the Farmers Bull
The community pitched in with donated auction goods including firewood, digger hours, outdoor clothing, scenic flights, outdoor furniture and a gold nugget which a local gold miner had found 30 years ago and chose to give to the cause. The final item was a vasectomy which reportedly went for a snip.
PGG Wrightson helped gather the donations and ran the auction attended by nearly 100 people, raising just short of $50,000.
“It really blew our initial goal out of the water,” says Stacey. The funds are still rolling in. Her daughter’s pre-school was about to run a gold coin donation dress-up day.
Stacey says they’re now being contacted by other rural communities to learn about how the event was organised. “Someone’s been in touch from Rail Valley and they’re going to do similar.” She’s encouraging other communities to follow suit to support the affected regions.
“It’s about the whole community getting involved. New Zealand is a small nation and everything is just up the road.”
Stacey says the Takaka event was so appreciated by those who attended that they are going to make it an annual event. “Sometimes you only see people at things like funerals so it’s great to be at a positive event that can also raise funds. There’s always something in the community that needs money.”
She says in future that might be Golden Bay causes or supporting other NZ communities.
Stacey and Tristan are members of Rural Contractors NZ and are talking to CEO Andrew Olsen about the best way to get the money raised to those most in need in cyclone-affected areas.