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The Evergreen Foundation supporting rural Hawke’s Bay

The rural Hawke’s Bay community is getting support from the Evergreen Foundation as it faces the long-term recovery from Cyclone Gabrille.

The Evergreen Foundation, set up in 2016 to relieve hardship and support education, quickly set up a relief fund to support primary producers impacted by the cyclone says Evergreen Foundation trustee Brendan O’Sullivan.

“We saw the huge impact of the cyclone on rural communities and knew we could help fill the gaps in funding to help people in the agricultural and horticultural sectors – and their families – get back on their feet,” he says.

“We put the call out to our suppliers and friends for donations. We’ve been blown away by the more than $800,000 in donations, pledges and in-kind support, and that number continues to rise.”

The Foundation was out supporting the rural community as part of the initial response.

“Immediately after the cyclone we supported 21 flights into isolated rural communities to drop off critical supplies such as fuel, food, pet food, and educational equipment. A big thank you to everyone who helped us make a difference at such a crucial time. In particular, I want to shout out to Bevan Hall who was brilliant at the logistics of getting the relief from our community partners out to our rural communities.”

As the fund moves from response to recovery, the Fund’s independent grants committee committed more than half of the funds raised through its first distribution round.

“In line with our focus of supporting the hort and ag sector get back on their feet, our three priorities are supporting parents who send their children to one of Hawke’s Bay’s boarding schools and may be experiencing financial or emotional hardship as a result of the Cyclone ($200,000), funding a bin sanitisation programme ($100,000), and supporting affected rural communities to come together, share stories, and strengthen their relationships to enhance their recovery. We have also pledged to match any funds raised by the schools to address hardship to up to $20,000 each ($160,000).”

On top of this, the foundation organised a special visit of two rugby stars to schools in Hawke’s Bay on 23 March, made possible with the support of Brendon Ratcliffe, Unison and helicopter pilot Joe Faram.

“We were able to entice Dan Carter and Ruby Tui to visit Hawke’s Bay where they visited Eskdale, Puketapu, Tūtira, Hastings Boys High, and St Joseph’s Māori Girls schools, chatted to the students, played some rugby and got our kids smiling.”

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst says it’s been wonderful to see the community support each other, including the Evergreen Foundation.

“I’m so proud of the way our region has responded to support one another through the devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle.

“There are hundreds of individuals and groups who are working so hard to help our community through hardship and pain.

“We are grateful to the Evergreen Foundation for bringing some of our volunteers together, and there will be more occasions to acknowledge and thank those volunteers in the future.”