Facing the dry spell: Resilience + adaptation in drought-stricken New Zealand

Facing the dry spell: Resilience + adaptation in drought-stricken New Zealand

REX Producer and Marlborough local resident Jo Grigg joins Dom George to provide a firsthand account of the challenges and resilience of the Kiwi farming community in the face of this natural adversity. 

Grigg begins by describing the dire situation in her home region of Marlborough, where Blenheim has received a mere 45% of its long-term average rainfall, leading to the driest period in nearly a century. 

"We've had 194mm of rain in Blenheim, just 45% of the long-term average... So it's the lowest rainfall for 94 years." 

This drought has forced farmers to sell stock early and struggle to maintain water supplies for their livestock. Despite the grim conditions, Grigg paints a picture of hope and adaptation. Farmers are strategically managing their stock and feed, preparing for the critical tupping season ahead, and finding ways to support one another through the crisis. 

"There's nothing worse than a whining farmer when it gets dry." 

In the Mackenzie region, crops have failed, and farmers are in survival mode. One farmer described it as "an absolute shit of a season," with many already feeding out. 

Grigg remarks on the impact of the drought on farming operations.

"If you haven't got centre pivots, any dryland crops have pretty much failed." 

Yet, amidst the hardship, there's a silver lining as increased tourism in some areas has brought a "cracker season" for local businesses, like the Fairlie pie shop, which Grigg humorously cites as a barometer of the state of the nation. 

The conversation also touches on the lack of rural press coverage on local issues, with Grigg expressing hope for rain and better news in the future. 

She underscores the importance of staying informed and connected through platforms like Rex and their social media channels. 

The episode concludes with a reminder of the resilience of the Kiwi farmers and the communal effort to overcome the toughest tests nature can offer.

Listen to the full chat between Jo Grigg and Dominic George above.

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