Unintended consequences

Carbon farming has resulted in communications issues for many farmers. Robert Carter joins the Chorus.

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Carbon farming has resulted in communications issues for many farmers. Robert Carter joins the Chorus.

IN OUR ISOLATED LOCAL VALLEYS, we are still quite dependent on copper cables for landline connections because we don’t yet have the luxury of cell phone reception.

There are still significant numbers of copper broadband connections despite the best efforts of fantastic internet providers such as Aonet quietly and efficiently installing repeaters and connections to homes and businesses.

The copper network is not hard wired back to the main communication hubs as cables connect subscribers to radio huts which in turn send signals back using a system known as MAR, multi access radio.

In the area south and west of Taumarunui we have a trig point on one of our Maunga known as Makahiwi.

Makahiwi has an impressive array of masts and aerials with dipoles, dishes and gear sending and receiving phone and internet traffic.

Makahiwi is at the head of our valley and the views from there are fantastic as it is a shade over 2000 ft above sea level.

Recently though, we’ve noticed that our phone and internet is very unstable with many messages coming up on screen about “unknown error has occurred”.

My friend Dan Steele from Blue Duck Station (three ridges away, 12km in a straight line but about 100km by road) has encountered the same issues, just about driving him insane as he tries to run his tourist operation at Whakahoro.

I decided it was time to investigate and went on a tiki tour for a “nohi” (look).

The network is owned and run by Chorus, so I tried to contact them a week ago and so far they have not responded to phone calls or emails. (Yes, I did get through briefly, enough at least to lodge a complaint).

The good people at Chorus are in a corporate fortress and they take a lot of trouble to insulate themselves from serfs such as myself who have the audacity to try and contact them.

I found that the power supply to the system has been cut off by the local power company because carbon farming pine trees keep falling over the line.

The owner of the trees is happy for the trees to be cut. (But someone else has to pay for it of course)

So, Chorus, in their wisdom, now have an electrician travel to fuel up a petrol-driven generator, three or four times a week.

Interestingly the electrician travels all the way from Whanganui to do this, a 400km round trip!

(I know several capable technicians, who live much closer, who could do this at a considerably lower cost.)

The generator putters away 24/7 or until it runs out of fuel.

In addition to the power supply woes, the carbon farming trees have grown so well they now occlude the line of sight required for the MAR system.

One could say that these are unintended consequences of the drive to absorb carbon dioxide to save the planet.

However, I do wonder about the carbon footprint left by A, the generator and B, the ute travelling 1200km a week to fuel said generator.

All I can say now is a well-used acronym, wtf.

Hopefully, by the time you read this, Chorus will have been in touch and given us all assurances it will all be fixed. Yeah right.

But I’m not holding my breath as this is par for the course nowadays where few, in positions of power, have any care at all about small towns or country areas and the basic services we need to operate.

They love to send their invoices though.