North Island drought zone extended
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has extended the official drought areas across the North Island, meaning government support programmes can be rolled out to those regions.
A state of drought has been officially declared in South Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay, Mr Guy says in a statement. That covers Auckland Council area south of the Harbour Bridge, all of Waikato Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay Regional Council areas, and joins Northland.
The decision was made after consultations with communities and an assessment was taken by the Ministry for Primary Industries.
"The declaration of a medium-scale event means that extra government funding will now be available to rural support trusts," Mr Guy says. "The entire North Island is dry and I am keeping a close eye on other parts of the East Coast, as well as Wairarapa, Manawatu and Taranaki."
The drought is expected to reduce New Zealand's dairy production this season, and was seen as the main cause for a 10 percent jump in dairy prices sold on Fonterra's online auction site today.
Mr Guy says Work and Income will offer rural assistance payments, which is the equivalent of the unemployment benefit, to people in extreme hardship.
New Zealand's drought follows similar dry conditions during last year's Northern Hemisphere summer, when arid weather caused grain shortages, leading to lower food production.