Tag Archives: Otaraoa Road


001It rained yesterday. A lot. We are accustomed to heavy rain here and are blessed with very free draining soils. The dogs hate the rain and won’t go out until it is near emergency time for them. But the rain, it continued. Mark lost track of the rain gauge around 200ml during the day.
002OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADown in our park is the lowest area of our property but over the years, we had eliminated flooding with a weir, flood channel and stop banks. Until yesterday. That is what we refer to as the high bridge in the very centre behind the magnolia – featured often in photographs. It is a low grade phone camera image because I was not going to risk my new camera in the torrential rain. The water is flowing right over the bridge.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn fact the better part of park was flooded and resembled a raging torrent. It is usually such a quiet little stream that flows through. Half of it is channelled through the garden as here, and half is diverted down the separate flood channel. It all became one yesterday.

006When we made our way out to the road, we saw why our park was flooding. This is the corner where the stream enters our property.
006 (2)And the scene to the right of the intersection which is also our place.
007 (2)But nothing must stop the petrochemical traffic (though we notice it has stopped today so the road damage must be a concern). This massive LNG tanker ploughed blindly through without checking that there was still road beneath, which was a bit of a surprise to us.
008The ute that tried it next was not so lucky. He hit the water too fast and stalled. Fortunately help was to hand for towing him out because the water was flowing through his vehicle and the current could well have swept it away.
016There is a lesson on negotiating flood waters, even in the big 4 wheel drive offroad vehicles much favoured today. We noticed a Jeep Cherokee in our carpark, but didn’t find out until later in the day that it too had stalled in the water. The occupants had to escape through a window because the water was up the doors. It was towed to the closest safe place, which was ours. We joked about claiming salvage rights over it but he arrived today to try and start it. It didn’t. Start, I mean, so it is still parked there.
003The shocker was this car. It is just around the corner to the right, out of view to those of us on the other road. The occupants were our elderly neighbours who had to be rescued out of the car window. They were very shocked, but not otherwise injured. With hindsight, we worry how close they came to drowning and none of us on the other road would even have known they were there, a few metres out of sight.
021This morning, the waters were receding. It is messy but we have not yet found any major damage on our place. Others have not been as lucky. It is perhaps a timely warning about the power of Nature and the increasing frequency of what are referred to as “extreme weather events. And always live in a house on a hill, not on a flood plain.
027Where Mark and dogs are standing was half a metre under water at this time yesterday.

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.