Til the cows come home

So we moved from the crushing numbers of a hellish US hurricane season to the lush green New Zealand. The New Zealand of earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunami, flash flooding. A wonderful place to visit and live. Lee Cowan, from Dairy NZ talked to us about preparedness in NZ with the usual kiwi humour. Small, but mighty and have a lot of crises.

With only two tiers of government, this is useful. But, she said, there’s still a lot of bureaucracy. There’s a singular framework, get ready, get thru, which applies nation wide. But she demonstrated how the framework applied at the national, regional, local and organisational level. At the national level, it was truly campaign related. And they do what the kiwis do well (check out the Air Zealand Safety Videos). Apply wry humour to get your attention. “It happens” is the theme, and they have done a range of humourous videos highlighting various aspects of preparedness. www.happens.nz. The it happens theme is a riff on people (91%) identifying that disaster preparedness is important, but it won’t happen to them. The videos are cute. It would be interesting to see if they resonate with people.

A regional level activity involved a zombie apocalypse down in Otago region. It received such nation wide prominence that Lee’s sister, who’s eyes glaze over when she talked about preparedness, took notice and listened and decided to do something. Many channels, one message.

It was interesting then, she spoke about the AF8 Fault line education. This is a serious education effort around the science if the Alpine fault running along the south island mountain ranges shakes, its likely to split the island in two, either east/ west, or north south. This one is focused on sitting with people, treating them as adults, and working through the science to help them plan, as individuals, and communities.

The final part of Lee’s presentation was around her work with Dairy NZ. Now while she is a country girl, she let on that she likes cows, but is a bit nervous around lots of them. And NZ has a lot of cows, and she works for an organisation that works with cows. But, she understand the issues. One of the things that she highlighted, and i have been challenging people for a long time on, is that notion of rural communities are resilient, farmers are a resilient bunch, right. In NZ they are right in the middle of a rural farming mental health crisis. The wanted to put in place support, but knew that a campaign approach wasn’t going to work. It had to be community outreach work, through a program called good yarn. Good yarn. These wellness workshops, helping people to prepare by putting in place support mechanisms, along the idea that a chair has four legs, and if you start to take away legs, you can still hold onto them, but what if all the legs are gone, how do you get other people to hold the legs of the chair.  She also talked about the role of vets. They are gold. They know where people are, and how they are doing. And absolutely fabulous presentation.

You Am I, one of my faves, and great memories of driving around the South Island of NZ, and Hourly Daily was one of a couple of CDs that worked in our car

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