By Susan Murray and Maja Burry of RNZ
A Wairoa farming leader says the relentless rain still falling in northern Hawke's Bay is like a recurring nightmare and farmers are beside themselves.
Federated Farmers Wairoa branch chair Allan Newton said conditions were now 10 times worse than after last week's deluge.
Consistent rain meant the soil could not soak up any more water and the ground had turned liquid, he said.
Newton said there was significant damage to farm infrastructure such as tracks and bridges and would take a week of fine weather before many farmers would even be able to get out to check their properties.
Every morning farmers were waking to more problems and the unrelenting bad weather was starting to weigh on morale, he said.
"They're not happy. They are very bashed down and demoralised. They've had no assistance from anyone, but no one can assist at this stage because the rain is still coming down, since Wednesday last week it hasn't stopped raining."
One farmer had to try and rescue a mob of 30 sheep which had slips come down either side of them, leaving the animals trapped with only a river below and a cliff above them, he said.
"There are stories of people having to walk quite a long way just to open gates to move stock because they can't get here any other way ... basically now it's so wet, even the horses will be getting stuck in the mud and it's dangerous on a horse when it's too muddy."
Power and phone lines were no sooner repaired than a slip washed them out again. The area had received over its normal annual rainfall in two months, with March alone copping 650 millimetres, he said.
Wairoa Helicopters pilot Corey Isherwood said he had been receiving calls from farmers who wanted to check on stock and move them to safer ground.
"Whenever the weather allows us, [we're] trying to get out there and fly them around so they can assess to see what's going on and then make a plan from there, but the access for them is very much restricted at the moment," Isherwood said.
"I've been dropping farmers up on hills so they can try and get stock to safety, get them away from the country that's moving a lot."
On Tuesday night Isherwood had to cut a fence to let 6000 sheep out into another paddock because the farmer had no way of accessing the area.
Some parts of Northern Hawke's Bay looked horrific when he flew over them five days ago and since then another 300mm of rain had fallen, he said.
"There's a lot of damage on the on the hill country, so some of the farmers are losing quite an amount of the productive land, it's just gone ... all the topsoil is gone, all the grass is gone and it's pretty devastating for some of them."
Farmers would need continued support to assess damage and repair fencing, he said.
Hawke's Bay Regional Council said the clean up from torrential rain in Wairoa District would take weeks or even months.
Hawke's Bay Regional Council Civil Defence duty manager Nathan Heath said various agencies were meeting on Wednesday afternoon to discuss a coordinated rural response for the devastated region.
Heath said officials did not yet know the full extent of the damage because so many roads were still impassable.
Some farmers reported the damage to land was worse than after Cyclone Bola in 1988, he said.