Worsening dry conditions have prompted the government to declare a drought in Northland, with a $80,000 support package.
Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor yesterday afternoon declared a medium scale adverse weather event for all areas north of the Auckland Harbour Bridge after months monitoring the situation.
His decision follows advice from the Rural Adverse Events Team yesterday morning for a declaration as such be made given the continued hot, dry and windy conditions right across Northland.
It's the sixth drought declared in Northland since 2009.
O'Connor said with little rain forecast for the next couple of weeks, the situation was now beyond the rural community's ability to cope and so the Rural Adverse Events Team has requested assistance.
He said the additional funding was for targeted recovery assistance for the Rural Support Trust to run events to help get farmers off-farm, reduce isolation and provide education and technical advice.
Money could also be used to access social welfare for those in extreme hardship, and increased flexibility with Inland Revenue Department.
"We know that farmers and growers are used to managing through adverse weather events, but I'd encourage them to make use of the great support available.
"Droughts can be really tough, especially on new farmers with little previous experience to lean on," O'Connor said.
Northland Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Julie Jonker said with no rain on the horizon over the next 10 days, things were looking dire.
Meanwhile, Far North mayor John Carter has admitted his council probably should have done more to avert the water crisis and its communications to ratepayers furious at tough restrictions currently in place.
Responding to the anger vented by about 150 people at the Far North District Council during a public meeting at Kaikohe Memorial Hall on Friday evening, Carter said the FNDC has been working for some time to ensure precious resources such as water were used wisely.
Many residents at Friday's meeting, called by the town's business association, accused FNDC of not doing enough, which has resulted in Level 4 water restrictions put in place in Kaikohe, Kaitaia and parts of the Kaipara.
Carter and chief executive Shaun Clarke were not at the meeting.
"It's very easy to point the finger. In hindsight, we probably should have done more but the key thing is we are now working together with other stakeholders and our ratepayers," Carter said.
"There will be critics, undoubtedly, but the council has been working for sometime now and we'll continue working to get more messages out there so that we all can get through this situation."
On Clarke and his absence from Friday's meeting, Carter said they both were busy in meetings outside Kaikohe.
He said it was pleasing to see not only residents across the Far North district stepping up efforts to save water, but informing FNDC of alternative water sources.
"We are now told the water flow in Awanui River is at its lowest on record going back 50 years but the community has been helpful and co-operative and it's by working together we'll get through this.
"While we tend to focus on our towns, our rural people are also struggling so the water crisis is right across the district and the region so the more message on water conservation we get out there, the more likely we'll overcome the situation," he said.
The Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management Group (CDEM) message to people are to have common sense, cool heads, and to conserve water as the extremely dry conditions worsen by the day.
CDEM spokesman Graeme MacDonald said a number of organisations such as the New Zealand Fire Service, police and local councils have put in place their own water conservation measures.
"It was also important to bear in mind that even when rain did come, the extent of the dry conditions impacting on the region – and the length of time they had now been doing so – meant intensive rain would not signal an end to the current issues the North is facing."