Fears over Covid-19 have added pressure to rural communities impacted by drought.

The Hawke's Bay Rural Advisory Group said it will "do all it can" to support rural communities impacted by drought throughout the national lockdown.

Following Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's announcement to move to Alert level 4 come Wednesday, the group has claimed the rural community and farmers are their utmost priority.

The group's co-chairman, Wade Nilsson, said it would contact those impacted by the drought conditions and those in need of urgent help.


"The rural community is in the middle of a severe drought, along with other significant pressures such as Covid-19," he said.

"Our ability to do some things may have been impacted by these further restrictions announced today, however we are working hard to find ways to support people.

"We are going out to reach out to these people to confirm what they need, such as relief and support for water and feed shortages, animal welfare and stock issues."

The Hawke's Bay Rural Advisory Group, which is made up of representatives from rural and primary sector agencies, is also working closely with Hawke's Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group.

According to the group, the rural community, particularly in Central Hawke's Bay, faces unprecedented drought conditions, with some communities also affected by bovine TB stock control.

Nilsson urged farmers to check in on their neighbours to see how they are and to offer support if required.

"The rural community knows how to rally together and support each other," he said. "We urge people to do just this and look after each other."

The group will also conduct surveys via phone rather than face to face, to maintain physical distance in line with the Government's recommendations around the coronavirus threat.


Farmers can find out if they qualify for financial assistance from the Farm Business Advice Support Fund, a new initiative funded by banks and the Government offering support for farmers struggling with farm debt.

Anyone needing support could contact the East Coast Rural Support Trust on 0800 RURAL HELP for free and confidential advice, or visit rural-support.org.nz.