The heatwave in Australia shows that storing water is essential writes Federated Farmers South Island Regional Policy Manager Kim Reilly.

New Zealanders love to talk (or moan) about the weather.

Despite this, we have tended to roll our eyes as friends or relatives who've crossed the ditch remind us 'how hot it is' over there.

Lately though, the bragging has pretty much disappeared and in its place is exasperation.


The seemingly never-ending summer heatwave, with temperatures soaring into the 40s, are taking their toll across Australia.

Rural fire fighters are at capacity, beaches are packed, air-conditioned malls have become a go-to venue and animals and people alike are suffering in the heat.

There are reports that large numbers of wild animals, including herds of brumbies and a third of the spectacled fruit-bats population, have dropped dead from dehydration and heat stress.

Read more from Federated Farmers here.

The Aussie heatwave is now making its way across New Zealand, so it's timely to have a 'refresher' on sensible things to do, and not do, in the heat.

It's also a crucial reminder on the importance of water storage, given the frequency of extreme weather events seems to be intensifying.

On the 'don't be bloody stupid' list, are things like not leaving dogs (or people) in cars.

Cranking down a window is seldom enough, and hot cars quickly become ovens on wheels.


Restricted fire seasons have been declared in a number of districts around New Zealand now and the danger of unplanned fires is currently 'high'.

So, cigarette butts need to be disposed of carefully, not chucked out of a moving car window into the tinder dry surrounds.

Any kind of mowing (lawn or farm) needs to be done as early in the morning as possible to avoid sparks off stones in the heat of the day.

Same with dog walking, if the pavement is too hot to put your hand on, it's too hot for your dog's paws.

Sky lanterns remain a disastrous idea – lighting up a paper lantern and sending it off into the sky above parched vegetation is a recipe for disaster.

Extreme care needs taken around fires and BBQs of any kind, so if in doubt, check out the website.

Extended periods of heat are not pleasant for animals either, whether farmed or domestic.

Being able to spot issues such as heat stress in animals is a skill most farmers are well versed in.

Symptoms include panting, increased water consumption, loss of appetite, listlessness and increased salivation.

A key to avoiding heat stress before it happens is ensuring all animals have a plentiful supply of drinking water, and access to shade wherever possible.

It is highly likely we'll continue to see more of these extended heat events into the future and preparation is key.

So, it's a no-brainer that storing water during times when it's plentiful is essential.

It not only improves our resilience to climate change, it ensures communities, businesses, households and animals alike have certainty when it comes to access to water, when and where it's needed, into the future.

While more big-hydro may be off the table, water storage is going to be crucial into the future.

It keeps our future production options open.

New Zealand needs to start having some serious conversations about how we enable and facilitate smaller scale and community water storage projects.

It is time for local and central politicians to sit down and start planning for more frequent weather extremes.

That's something I'm happy for us to learn from those across the ditch.