08 November, 2017

Willie Apiata visits rain-affected farmers in the lower North Island

Victoria Cross holder Willie Apiata is taking a message of solidarity to farmers affected by a year of heavy rainfall in the in the lower North Island.

Apiata, a Westpac NZ Ambassador, is visiting six communities across Taranaki, Manawatu, Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay this week.

Westpac Taranaki Agribusiness Area Manager, Rhys Fulton, says the idea came up after talking to the local branch of Rural Support Trust.

“It’s been a really long wet year for farmers. It’s meant a hard time calving and a hard time getting through the spring.

“We thought it would be great for the farmers to hear from someone like Willie who’s probably experienced his share of adverse conditions, and might know a thing or two about resilience.”

Apiata spoke to farmers about the importance of family and communication in maintaining a healthy life balance.

He recalled the comradery and brotherhood he experienced during a 23-year military career and encouraged locals to support each other through the challenging times.

Mr Fulton says Willie Apiata’s the perfect guy for the task.

“The farmers out on the land have a lot of affinity for a guy like him who’s had a hands-on career.”

He says the informal sessions have a secondary benefit, in that they allow farmers to get together and have a chat about some of the challenges they’ve faced during the wet winter.

“It’s about getting together and having a chat over a cup of tea.”