Rod Kestle gave us an update on club member Phil Aish’s incredible work assisting with the cyclone Gabrielle recovery. He outlined how Phil was pivotal in the recent successful  ‘Tractor Trek’ in the Waikato during which he was hospitalised a number of times over past weeks. Despite his health issues Phil had a burning desire to help the victims of Gabrielle and offered the use of his three heavy duty tractors/excavators in the cleanup and remediation of property in the Hawkes Bay area along with his own labour. As a farmer he is only too fully aware of the anguish the farming community is currently going through.

Transportation of the machines necessitated a 600 kms trip via Fielding and a bill of $6,100 which was raised by Rod and a team of generous supporters.

Rod showed pictures of Phil driving a 20-tonne excavator on a farm repairing a washed out culvert, road and a river crossing which were preventing the local farmer from moving his stock.  He described the job as very challenging and at times ‘white knuckle’ stuff working on slippery and unstable land. Phil has indicated he is prepared to stay along with his machines for up to 6-months if necessary.

According to Rod,  Phil is working 6-days a week, and living in a caravan. Despite the long hours he is coping well, however Rod is concerned about Phil’s health and has asked the Stortford Lodge Rotary Club to keep a close watch on him. Likewise Rod feels our Club could support him in the form of ongoing communication which would be welcomed by Phil. While cell phone coverage is very good Rod urged members to support Phil by send him texts to which he would respond after finishing his days work.

Rod also asked if the Club could provide financial help to the tune of $6,000 to transport the machines home on completion of the job. Acting President Barry Stafford challenged Club members and proposed we top up the recent ‘Shades’ concert collection which raised $4,000 to a total of $12,000 and read out the following resolution:

‘That the Rotary Club of Maungakiekie at its meeting on 27 March , 2023

  1. Commend member Phil Aish for the initiative he ahs taken to assist directly with storm and flood relief in Hawkes Bay in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Stortford Lodge, and
  2. Request the Trustees of the Club ‘s Charitable Trust to set aside $12,000 as a storm and flood relief fund to provide relief as Phil requires.

The resolution was seconded and passed by acclamation by members present.

In the ensuing discussion the Trustee said it was important we signal to Phil our support for him, and that the Trust fund has sufficient funds in hand to cover the $12,000. It was suggested in the circumstances we should also provide a personal location beacon as a safety function.