Huge thanks to Rowan Clarke and the Horowhenua community for their incredible contribution of loaned generators and fuel which provided a much needed boost to recovery efforts at the Omahu community this week.
Seven generators, 240lts of fuel, 20 petrol cans, and $200 in petrol vouchers were delivered to the Marae by the Levin businessman on Thursday, in partnership with our genLend crew.
Rowan said news reports of the cyclone damage in Hawke’s Bay spurred him into action.
“I was involved in the 2004 floods. I knew it was worse that it looked,“ he said.
The outdoor machinery store owner started receiving generator orders from Hawke’s Bay last week as local stores sold out, even driving to Auckland himself to meet the urgent demand.
Having exhausted supplies, he decided to start a campaign to get locals to lend a generator instead.
“In rural areas most people have generators sitting in the shed doing nothing,” he said. “And farmers know what it is to be without power at times, and also to be last to get the power on with urban centres getting priority.”
Realising petrol cans were also in short supply, Rowan ordered 20 from a contact in Auckland. To target the farming community, he took his campaign out to rural schools, delivering a petrol can to each one and asking the kids to decorate the cans with messages of hope for Hawke’s Bay from the children of the Horowhenua.
“I knew getting the kids involved would also help spread the word to rural communities where people would understand the need and want to help,” he said.
Around 70% of the machines had stale fuel or needed some work, so Rowan enlisted his mechanics to make sure they were all in working order before making the trip.
A local radio station and a community Facebook group threw their support behind the initiative too. With their help spreading the word, Rowan headed out to petrol stations and raised $1500 for the containers and filled every one of them with fuel in just 2 hours.
“Everyone want’s to help, right around the country,” he said. “Everyone’s behind you guys.”
Having amassed a trailer-load of gear, Rowan wasn’t entirely sure who to deliver it to. His mother-in-law, an Anglican minister, put him on to the team here at genLend after reading about the Hawke’s Bay initiative online and realising it was a perfect match.
genLend was developed at Saint Andrews Church in Hastings 10 days ago to bring generators, pumps and small diggers from around the country into Hawkes Bay as part of the disaster response.
Saint Andrew’s minister, the Rev. Jill McDonald, says genLend is just a simple idea. “Many people have gear in their sheds that they’re not using, and here there is such a great need. So it’s matching those who want to give, with people who need their help.”
Rev Jill said the Omahu community had reached out to her when they heard a caravan had been donated. Delighted to have found a good home for the caravan, she asked what other help they might need.
"I mentioned we had generators coming from Levin and he said 'we'll take those too'."
Zhane Tāhau Whelan, priest at Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa, was grateful for the support. He said there were 60 homes damaged in their community and, despite the challenges, the Marae continued to operate as a hub for up to 150 families affected.
Chad Puna is in charge of relief operations at the Marae. He said the generators would be deployed to help the displaced whanau in the community.
“Most of our whanau are still without power, we don’t have water running for toilets or pumps for septic tanks, so we are still needing a lot of support and these generators will be able to help in many ways,” he said.
Since returning home, Rowan has been offered more gear and is already planning his return with additional generators and a bobcat.