A massive All Blacks test match couldn’t keep 250 farmers from cramming into the Ngatea War Memorial Hall to see a comedy show put on just for them.
Flood-affected farmers from the Waikato township and surrounding areas were treated to a free, one-off performance of the hugely successful Sons of a Bitch comedy show.
Due to scheduling requirements, the comedy night had to be held on Saturday, 1 July – the same night as the second All Blacks versus Lions test match in Wellington.
The comedy show featured Amelia Dunbar and Emma Newborn, who play country dogs. It was put on with support from the Waikato Hauraki Coromandel Rural Support Trust and Farmstrong.
The trust’s co-ordinator Wanda Leadbeater admits she was a bit worried when she learned of the date.
“I thought there’s no way farmers are going to come out when the rugby is on, but we had a full house and it was such a great night,” she says.
“It was really fantastic for people for get off the farm for the night, talk to other farmers in a similar situation, socialise and to realise they weren’t alone.”
Some farms still under water
A bad run of horrendous weather this year including cyclones Debbie, Donna and Cook left many farms in the region flood-damaged.
“Farmers are still under huge stress from the flooding and some farms are still under water. Because everything is so wet, the smallest amount of rain comes and you’re flooded again.”
Wanda says farmers have a big job on their hands to recover from the floods, which is impacting on their wellbeing.
“The flooding has caused huge financial and emotional stress. It’s been relentless, exhausting and there’s just been no break from it.”
Important to talk and take a break
She says the comedy show provided a fun night out for farmers and helped take their mind off things.
“It was so nice to see everybody smiling and laughing. The show was great and the mixture of people who found it funny was great. There were lots of hugs and tears from people at the end because they felt like somebody had cared enough to put the show on for them.
“It’s easy to lose your humour in difficult times so it was nice to put some humour back in people’s lives, even if it was only for a few hours.”
A BBQ and refreshments were also provided and free, laminated Under the Pump posters featuring Farmstrong ambassador Sam Whitelock were handed out.
“It’s important to remember that however bad things are, there’s always somebody there to talk to. It’s really important to talk, take a break and connect with other people,” Wanda says.