The organiser of a hay bale convoy bringing vital feed to fire-ravaged farms in Tasman says it was well worthwhile but the problem has not gone away.

''There's a massive lack of feed and it will still need a lot of work,'' Paule Crawford, of Geraldine, said.

The complicating factor was drought, which would not be going away, she said.

''In three to four months it could be crunch time up there. I can see there will definitely be another squeeze and it will be tough, but they're not crying or moaning.''


Once she learned of the plight of farmers affected by the devastating Tasman fires earlier this month, Ms Crawford realised there would be a desperate need for feed.

She got on the phone and Facebook, and organised companies to give their time, trucks, drivers and hay to be sent up to Richmond free of charge.

Some trucks went north separately, but a big convoy travelled up on Friday, February 15.

From Monday, February 11, to the Friday, a total of 23 truck and trailer units in the Nelson Fires Hay Convoy went through, carrying 276 tonnes of feed.

A log was kept of the number of kilometres the trucks travelled: it was 17,784km which cost $80,000 in fuel, not taking into account driver time. Road users' charges totalled nearly $14,000. A call has since been made that the Government should waive these charges.

A total of 17 long-haul companies were involved, and some companies provided three trucks, some two, others one.

The hay was handed over to Federated Farmers who distributed from the Richmond showgrounds.

''The farmers were overjoyed; it was very emotional,'' Ms Crawford, who went to Richmond, said.

''We didn't have any hitches with our plan but it was a little stressful having so much expensive machinery on the road.

''It was definitely successful, it ticked all the boxes.''

Gerald Daldry and Mike Daldry of Christchurch company Protranz made a yard available at Broughs Rd near McLeans Island as a gathering point for the bales and as a headquarters to load and launch the convoy.

Gerard Daldry said they had 60 staff and made five available with three truck and trailer units, to help out the convoy going around farms picking up bales.

''Farmers are the type of guys who open their doors quickly for people in trouble,'' Mr Daldry said.

''This country was built by men in denims and ruined by men in suits.''

Bales of all types - round bales, conventional bales and squares of straw were given.
A bank account was set up to cover costs and Ms Crawford said anything left over was going to the Nelson Firefighters Fund.

''The trucking community has been amazing.

''None of the companies involved has asked for any money at all.''

-By Chris Tobin
Central Rural Life