Getting help during natural disasters

Government and community support may be available for rural communities and individuals after an adverse event, like a natural disaster, severe weather, or a biosecurity incursion. The kind of support available depends on how the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) classifies an event.

Contact your local Rural Support Trust

Your regional Rural Support Trust can help with information and assistance when an adverse event happens.

Rural Support Trusts are a nationwide network that directly assists rural communities and individuals affected by adverse events. During or after an adverse event, Rural Support Trusts in affected areas may:

  • coordinate an initial response to an event or a longer term recovery effort
  • provide mentors or colleagues from rural backgrounds to talk over problems
  • advocate for financial assistance
  • provide stress management services.

If the trust does not offer particular services themselves, they will put you in touch with appropriate individuals and organisations that can help.

Who is responsible for restoring essential infrastructure?

  • Local government is responsible for restoring community services like roads, water supplies, and flood protection.
  • Central government is responsible for state highway restoration through the New Zealand Transport Agency.
  • Telecommunication and lines companies are responsible for restoring phone and power supplies.

Assistance depends on how the event is classified

MPI classifies adverse events as either localised, medium-, or large-scale events. The type of help available depends on this classification.

Read how MPI classifies events 

Assistance for localised adverse events

Every year there are disruptive weather systems or localised adverse events that affect a relatively small number of farms. Communities should first organise a response with local government and their local Rural Support Trust. Families severely affected may qualify for central government support, like tax relief or Working for Families assistance.

  • For information about tax relief, contact your tax agent or Inland Revenue's emergency helpline on 0800 47 35 66
  • For questions about Working for Families 

Assistance for medium-and large-scale events

In addition to the support for localised events, more help is available for rural communities and individuals affected by medium- and large-scale events.

Depending on the adverse event, rural communities and individuals may be able to access:

  • Inland Revenue assistance: Several tax relief measures are available on a case-by-case basis. These are flexible tax provisions or late estimates of provisional tax and use of the adverse events income equalisation scheme.
  • Rural assistance payments (RAPs): Payments to families affected by specific events when their farm or orchard business can't meet essential living needs. These payments are set at 100% of the unemployment benefit level.
  • Recovery facilitator(s): The government may appoint a recovery facilitator. The facilitator's main role is to coordinate the response and recovery initiatives. A facilitator is necessary when administering RAPs.
  • Emergency unemployment benefits (through Working for Families): This is available for employees who have no work and income for a short period. Income and asset tests apply.
  • Special needs grants (Recoverable Assistance Programme from Working for Families): This is usually to meet a one-off need (for example, a food grant) and is discretionary, based on individual circumstances.
  • Psychosocial support: Psychosocial support – like counselling – can be made available through a Rural Support Trust.
  • Pastoral care: Grants to help pastoral care providers support primary producers. Support includes financial advice, counselling, and welfare support through a Rural Support Trust.
  • Enhanced Task Force Green: This is a labour assistance scheme that provides assistance for clean up and repairs. The enhancements may include assistance for personal safety equipment and machinery.
  • Technology transfer costs: Grants to provide assistance for education and technical advice on recovery options relating to financial and contingency planning, including animal welfare. The grants can be used for activities including workshops, meetings and brochures. Contact MPI if you need support for technology transfer during or following a medium- or large-scale adverse event.
  • Volunteer costs: Costs are met for volunteer travel and accommodation from outside the region.


Inland Revenue

  • Contact your tax agent or Inland Revenue's emergency helpline, 0800 47 35 66.

Working for Families

Rural Support Trusts

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