Flood-affected farmers share tips with Sam

Despite a few nerves, Hawke’s Bay farmer Junior Taulago was absolutely stoked to be interviewed on camera by Farmstrong Ambassador Sam Whitelock, who also happens to be his idol.

“It was bloody awesome. I really respect Sam, he’s my idol and I look up to him a lot,” says Junior who manages a sheep and beef farm in Patoka near the Kaweka ranges.

In July, Farmstrong invited three farmers affected by Cyclone Gabrielle and the Auckland floods to share their experiences with Sam and talk about how they managed their wellbeing in the face of such catastrophic events.

Sam interviewed Junior, Paparimu farmer Amber Carpenter and Bay of Plenty farmer Paul Walker, who are all still dealing with the aftermath of the destruction that tore through their properties.

The trio, who’ve since become good friends, flew to Rangiora (north of Christchurch) for the interview in July. Junior says the experience was amazing as he got to meet and connect with others who had been through similar experiences.

“We connected and talked about what we go through as farmers and how we deal with stress and other things that come our way that are out of our control. We also really wanted to be able to help others who may be going through tough times.”

He says it was great to share tips with the others and learn how people deal with adversity in different ways.

“It was great being interviewed by Sam. I really respected the fact he took the time to listen to us and with his farming background he really understood what we were saying. I felt really privileged to have been a part of it.”

Keeping the big picture important

Junior, a former hip-hop instructor, says conversations about looking after your wellbeing are essential and the more that they’re normalised, the better.

“Hopefully these interviews will inspire others to talk about how they’re feeling and what they’re going through and to be more open.”

He says despite the damage to his farm and other challenges, he tries to keep the big picture.

“My struggles and what I go through are sometimes a lot, but there are always other people out there who are doing it tough, too, or sometimes even worse, so I’ve learnt to be grateful for the things I do have that some people don’t.”

Being flexible and open-minded is also helpful, Junior says.

“There’s no one way of doing things that’s right. There’s always a different way to do things and it’s important to do what works for you. Talk about and share what you’re going through and remember it’s okay to not be okay. You can only be strong for so long.”

Junior says the clean-up on the farm is going well and a lot of repairs have been made.

“We’re making headway but when it rains everything gets soaking wet again. With the ground so wet, a little bit of rain feels like a lot, but we’re getting through it. I’m taking it slowly and not trying to do everything at once. It really is one day at a time.”

He says he really hopes people tune into the interviews with Sam.

“Connecting and sharing with others is so important. If you share, then other people will share, and it benefits everyone.”

The interviews with Sam will be available to watch next month on the Farmstrong website www.farmstrong.co.nz.

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