Solastalgia – the story of our corner and changing times

Oddly enough, I find being able to put a name to the sense of loss and grief I feel at what is happening to our beloved area of Tikorangi is helpful. Solastalgiathe distress that is produced by environmental change impacting on people while they are directly connected to their home environment. Faced by the high impact of petrochemical development around us on every side, I now refer to the Tikorangi Gaslands. The tragedy is that it is not a joke.

IMG_20141214_0002This is what our corner of Otaraoa and Tikorangi Roads used to look like in the mid 1990s. The havoc on the left hand side is the result of major work Mark carried out to reduce flooding through our park and to return some of the stream to its original bed. His tidy grandfather had straightened up the stream to run along the boundary back around the early 1900s.
IMG_20141214_0001A year or two later and our children are getting off the school bus on what was a quiet country road. Note the trees on the right hand side.
???????????????????????????????This is what our side of the road looks like now. The trees have grown up and many people tell us how much they enjoy the flowering.
???????????????????????????????But we now have the petrochemical industry all round us and down this formerly quiet little country lane is the huge Mangahewa C site with its eight gas wells, single men’s camp and much additional activity. The road has been strengthened and widened for their heavy transport, all done in such a way as it is now impossible to walk along the verge. It is sometimes referred to as “loss of rural amenity”. Children can no longer walk safely to and from school bus stops, cycling is not safe, forget horse riding. It is pretty difficult to find a safe position to stand clear when the heavy transport thunders by. Meantime, across the intersection, the other side of Tikorangi Road – largely unused by the petrochemical industry – has remained unchanged over the past 20 years. It is a stark contrast.
???????????????????????????????And on the right hand side of the road where there used to be trees, there is now a green wasteland dominated by the designated high tension power lines that Todd Energy, a petrochemical company, deemed necessary for their operations. Sadly, petrochemical development is now given precedence over rural amenity, local residents or the preservation of the environment. This is our world of 2014. During the day we listen to the heavy transport. At night, our formerly pitch black sky is often lit by gas flares in one or more quadrants. On an otherwise quiet Sunday morning today, I could hear the distant noise from Mangahewa E site. Every night we go to sleep to a low drone from one of the plants and we are not even sure which one it is any longer because there are four possible sources for the noise. But under the Resource Management Act, we are told by our councils that “effects are less than minor” and we are not, therefore, an affected party.

No wonder some of us feel grief for what we have lost. Solastalgia.

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8 thoughts on “Solastalgia – the story of our corner and changing times

  1. Jessie Balding

    I visited your beautiful garden with the Broadwood garden club a couple of years ago. You have my deepest sympathy. Regards, Jessie

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Oh you are, Paul. Much of New Zealand is. In our case, profits go to the Todd family, the third on the NZ Rich List.I feel I am paying a high personal price for their wealth. Their company, of course, will tell you that it is all for the greater good.

  2. missmichelemichele

    Hi Abby,

    I have been following you for almost 2 years and I love your posts. You have a fantastic knowledge of plants, a great feel and eye for design, and an acerbic wit I would not like to be on the end of. It pisses me off that you and your piece of the world have to deal with the Petrochemical companies. I would much rather be contacting you to visit your garden.

    Best of luck and my best wishes.

    Michele

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Thank you, Michele. Alas my acerbic wit is not sufficient to keep the petrochemical companies at bay but it helps to know that people hear and understand.

  3. Pat Webster

    This is a terribly sad story. I was upset when our dirt road was paved 20 or so years ago, knowing it meant more traffic, with everyone driving faster — which is exactly what has happened. But more and faster traffic can’t compare with what you have to live with every day. The noise, the lights at night, the lack of safety — truly appalling. Knowing you are unable to correct the situation must make you feel powerless. My very real sympathies.

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