The ADB Williams Trust is a charitable trust which farms at Otope and Coonoor, Dannevirke.

It is pleased to sponsor the Bush Telegraph in order to provide support to the rural community during this time of Covid-19 lockdown which coincides with the severe drought experienced throughout the North Island.

The late Mr Don Williams gifted Pukemiro Station to the Trust in 1983 to give educational opportunities in the agricultural sector to young New Zealanders.

In the 37 years since the trust's inception, it has made numerous and varied charitable grants, primarily in the rural sector and within the Tararua district.

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The purchase of additional land at Otope and Coonoor gave the trust the size needed to run its own on-farm cadet training scheme.

Pukemiro Cadetship started in 2017 and each year trains six highly motivated and able young farmers of the future over a two-year course which combines practical and theoretical skills.

The drought and the Covid-19 crisis have presented operations manager Mark Heaphy, and his staff, with many and unique challenges.

Mark comments: "It has been an interesting season to return to a "summer safe" district, but not too dissimilar to my last one in Dannevirke of 2013.

"The extended dry has really shown the strengths of the two properties. We were extremely fortunate to take over Homewood farm adjoining our Coonoor block in early February, which has been invaluable this season," he said.

"The cadets have really risen to the challenges that this tight period and lockdown have presented. They have learnt a variety of new skills that only a dry season calls for, especially feeding grain and poplars. This has kept us occupied and positive during these unprecedented times."

The trust has faced the added compliance issues that the Covid-19 lockdown has brought to all the primary sector. It has meant that the cadets' theory classes have been put on hold.

It will also have repercussions for the trust's open days for next year's intake which usually are scheduled for early June. The trust hopes these open days will be held in some form at a later date. Information can be sought from the website www. Pukemiro.co.nz or the Pukemiro Cadetship Facebook page.

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The trust believes the Covid-19 crisis highlights the vital role of agriculture in the New Zealand economy and its importance for the wellbeing of all the country.

The resilience of the farming sector in continuing to farm through drought and disease is something to be recognised and applauded by the whole of New Zealand, both urban and rural.