Rural response to disasters improved

by Kent Caddick

A group of rural agencies and individuals has formed a new body, which will represent farmers and growers in Selwyn, and the wider Canterbury area, in future adverse events such as earthquakes.

The new Canterbury Primary Industries Adverse Events Cluster Group is leading the integration of agencies in the primary industries, with the Canterbury Civil Defence & Emergency Management (CDEM) Group, to prepare for and respond to adverse events in rural Canterbury.

The cluster is open to all agencies with involvement in Canterbury primary industries and CDEM. It is led and represented by a Rural Advisory Group (RAG) of the Canterbury Rural Support Trusts, Federated Farmers, the Ministry for Primary Industries, Canterbury CDEM Group, and representatives of each primary sector.

At the group’s recent meeting two co-chairs were elected, with New Zealand Veterinary Association Regional Branch Canterbury representative, Julia Pasztor, and North Canterbury Federated Farmers’ Provincial President, Lynda Murchison, taking on the roles.

Ms Murchison spearheaded the informal coordination and response group Team Ag in response to the Kaikoura and Hurunui earthquakes.

“In a disaster or adverse event, the new cluster group will mean we are prepared to manage information between farmers and the primary sector with the vital work that CDEM does,” Ms Murchison said.

“Over the last seven years as we have been hit by several adverse events, it has become clear that we have a role to play in helping Civil Defence respond to the needs of the rural community.

“Our strong networks have already proven that we can work together on a better coordinated response for our rural communities.”

Julia Pasztor is currently contracted to MPI and by night volunteers at a wildlife hospital.

“In my initial experience of disasters, there are always calls for vets to come and assist, whether for companion or stock animals.

“I’m honoured to be elected as co-chair and excited that I can be in a position to help, as we face future challenges that can impact not only on human welfare but also on animals.”

MPI is facilitating the setup of similar groups throughout New Zealand, so that when there is a disaster or event, CDEM can tap into the resource for the rural response.