Wet, but not all bad

Micha Johansen took precautions as the Tukituki River spilled across the paddocks.

In Home Block5 Minutes

Micha Johansen took precautions as the Tukituki River spilled across the paddocks.

AS EVERYONE ALREADY knows, things got pretty wet in the middle of February. My parents and I stood in the dining room in Central Hawke’s Bay and watched as the Tukituki River began ‘breaching’ the stopbank via gaps designed specifically for this reason.

Despite what certain political parties and activist groups might try to lead us to believe, New Zealand has had floods and other extreme weather events before, and our very sensible forefathers used their common sense when designing stopbanks. This means that when the Tukituki floods, it spills out over farmland to the north, rather than flood the town on the rivers south. Pretty damn clever were our predecessors.

Shortly after the river began to flow over the stopbank, I thought I’d better hightail it over the back paddock, to turn the power off to the pump. By the time I got to the pump, water was well over knee height.

At the height of the flood, it would have been well over my head, which was nothing compared to how the high water got to in some of the tight valleys dotted about the district, but impressive all the same.

The floods weren’t all bad. What they did achieve was a great sense of community, not only locally, but nationally. Seeing so many people come together to help each other out was amazing. People just getting stuck in and helping out wherever they could, and however they could, volunteering their services and simply being the good ol’ genuine Kiwis of, what often feels like, days gone by.

The truckloads of goods, notably stock feed and generators, demonstrated the love and care from the entire nation, which warmed many a person’s soul, on what was for some, absolute destruction of lives and properties.

Stories abounded at work. One lost a nephew, another one’s mother could not swim, yet dog-paddled through floodwater to the neighbours for help. Many others had floodwaters and silt throughout their homes. And a guy I know who was married on February 11 essentially got to spend his honeymoon in a flat with his 19-year-old daughter and her flatmates, which I thought was pretty damned funny.


Unfortunately in times of crisis, a certain echelon of “not quite humans” decide to take advantage of people experiencing an incredibly stressful time in their lives. Looting, stealing and destroying whatever might be left. The reaction of PM Hipkins and his ilk describing the criminal happenings as “scaremongering” by right-wing politicians was an added kick in the guts the citizens did not need and left a lot feeling very vulnerable, dismissed and unheard.

Many residents were left with no option other than to set up their own checkpoints and patrols, which they manned after spending a large chunk of their day shifting silt and moving general debris. They certainly weren’t set up because of scaremongering; they were set up because shit was happening.

Back on farm at Eke, everything is trucking along the same. I’ve recently connected with Rookie Bull Rider of the Year, Koby Parsons. That’s rekindled my inner cowgirl, and I wonder if at 51 I could start a barrel-racing career.

Meanwhile our cows are now nicely pregnant and with an empty rate of under 10%, which is great. Unfortunately with going into autumn, nicely pregnant cows become very slow, sleepy, meandering cows. Most are generally still fast asleep when we go to fetch them in the morning, then the walk to the cowshed, up through to be milked and then leaving the cowshed is done at a maddeningly slow pace.

Lucky for them they have big, old, doe eyes and long fluttering eyelashes. And we only have to do it once a day!