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December 23, 2020 December 2020, Regular Features No Comments

Disasters and floods

There was a disastrous flood in the 1800s which covered Wharekaka, Waihinga  and the Pukio basin creating  a large lake in some places. The water covered homes and sheds , two men were left up a tree for two days before being recued. Floods in 1910 washed out the bridge at the top of Grey and Jellicoe Streets (then —-  ) 

Fire accounted a great number of homesteads: W Martin’s,  John Martin Junior’s Huangarua, The Smith’s Puruatanga in which a maid died. Both the T F Evans and Edward Harris homesteads were destroyed by fire. 

Many businesses also suffered, In 1872 and ’73 the Swan and Wharekaka hotels were burned to the ground, with the with the Ferry Inn  and Backwater Hotels going up in flames ten years later.  1886 the business area at Waihinga and Lower Valley road was burnt down. In 1908  six dwellings owned by one person were destroyed within just a few months. In 1913 The McLeod Boot and polish factor in Radium Street burnt down. The Catholic Church was destroyed by fire in 1918 In 1926 the buildings on the land now covered by Provider and Tom Wilson Motors were destroyed.

Saw mills were very fire prone with Mills at Waihinga, Pukio, Backwater, Moiki and Huangarua Road all being destroyed. Several flax mills also suffered the same fate. Both the  Dyerville and Tawaha Dairy factories were also destroyed by fire. 

What made Martinborough.

There was much subdividing of the large stations into smaller farms between 1900 and 1913, these included Dry River, Table Lands, Tawaha, Wharekaka, Hautotara, and Ruakokopatuna. 

Mr Coleman Phillips of Dry River engaged engineer Fred Roe to design and put in  water race . This went around the base of hills to Eastcoast Road then down to Eastcoast corner  with lead offs along the way. The other water race designed was from Ruakokopatuna round Tablelands to town. This was cost estimated at three thousand five hundred pounds ( 2020 = $609,119) and was subsequently cancelled  in 1909 as a high pressure system was being planned. 

Another early proposed system which was cancelled was for a sewerage system which was estimated to cost twenty three thousand pounds or alternately sixteen thousand pounds one to serve half the town, but which half? The outgoing commissioners handed the proposal over to  Mr W B Martin who said ‘no the cost is too high’.  

It was not until  1975 did a sewerage system get the green light from the mayor Dawson Wright., and this was a very scaled down version. On reflection there is not any stake in ground for any achievements in in Huangarua, Hikawera, or Wharekaka .

Mate Higginson 

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