Farmers Vs Parliament Clash Draws A Crowd

Published: Tue 28 May 2024 11:45 AM
Photo: Maeve O'Malley Photography
Farmers and politicians clashed on the sports field in Gisborne over the weekend, with the fixtures drawing a huge crowd and raising a significant sum of money for charity.
The rugby and netball games, organised by Federated Farmers, were played at the famous Ngatapa Sports Club in memory of the late Parekura Horomia.
"What we saw on Saturday was the very best of rural New Zealand," says one of the event’s organisers, Federated Farmers meat & wool chair Toby Williams.
"The sun was shining, the whole community turned up and helped out, and we raised a huge sum of money for a great cause."
The event raised almost $300,000 in cash donations, with all funds going directly to local farmers still refencing their properties and recovering from Cyclone Gabrielle.
"When you combine that with the value of the tractor we gave away and vouchers for the runners-up, there’s half a million dollars going into the local farming community," Williams says.
The Federated Farmers rugby team lost 20-12 to the Parliamentary side in what was an incredibly competitive and physical game.
"This wasn’t just a bunch of old boys and politicians running around the park," Williams says.
"There were definitely a few ring-ins on the Parliamentary side, with bodyguards, security officers and former professional players all lining up and running the ball hard into contact.
"You’ve got to give it to the politicians though. Agriculture Minister Todd McClay is a pretty handy player in the backline, pulling off a man of the match performance.
"It turns out Todd’s not just quick to cut red tape for farmers. He’s pretty quick down the right wing too.
"Labour MP Peeni Henare was like a rampaging bull every time he got his hands on the ball, and former Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor was a real menace at the breakdown."
On the netball court, Federated Farmers found more favour, pulling off an upset victory and toppling the visiting Parliamentary side 33-16.
The event’s other organiser, Federated Farmers board member Sandra Faulkner, says the day was just what the local community needed to bring everyone together.
"Some of our farming families are still really hurting after the cyclone. Across the district, farmers still have hundreds of kilometres of fencing left to do," Faulkner says.
"For a community who have really been through the wringer, it was overwhelming to see so much support, with over a quarter of Parliament flocking to Gisborne for the event.
"They packed their boots, left the politics in Wellington, and really showed up for our community when we needed them."
Faulkner says the event was about much more than just sport.
"It was an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate how much our local farming families have achieved over the last 18 months.
"Federated Farmers are still here, working hard with them."
The event was also about getting Members of Parliament on the ground in the region so they can truly understand the needs of our community as we work towards recovery
"We wanted the politicians to hear people’s stories, drive our roads, see the damage with their own eyes," Faulkner says.
Federated Farmers are incredibly grateful for all of the financial support we received from Woolworths New Zealand, CNH Industrial, Stevenson & Taylor, and FMG Insurance.
"Without them, this event wouldn’t have been possible," Faulkner says.

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