Wild weather leaves families without power for at least a week

By Alice Lock, Victoria White -
1 comment
Alexandra, 11 (left) and Emmet Mackintosh, 9, say cooking on the fireplace is the best thing about the outage. Photo / NZME
Alexandra, 11 (left) and Emmet Mackintosh, 9, say cooking on the fireplace is the best thing about the outage. Photo / NZME

Board games, Milo by the fire and cooking on top of the fireplace are becoming second nature for some Hawke's Bay families as power outages continue.

Around 400 properties in Hawke's Bay and Taupo have been without power since wild weather hit on Saturday morning, and it's unlikely to be restored to many for more than a week.

Craig and Carly Grant, like many others in Tutira, own a dairy farm where electricity is central to the running of the business.

They are fortunate enough to have a generator as a back-up supply so they can continue milking their 300 cows.

However, five dairy farms around them are not so fortunate and some haven't milked since Friday.

"If you can't milk the cows then you can't feed the calves," said Craig Grant.

The neighbouring farms have been moving cows to the Grant's shed so they can be milked.

Central Hawke's Bay Mayor Peter Butler said many farmers, who are in the thick of the lambing season, have lost hundreds of lambs.

"I've heard of some properties losing 1000 or more. It's catastrophic."

Although the power outage has caused many problems the Grants are looking at the positive: it has brought the family closer together.

"With no television the kids actually have to talk," Carly Grant said.

The Mackintosh family are also without power and Emmet Mackintosh, 9, has taken to outside activities to fill in his time.

The Mackintoshes say cooking has become a daily struggle. They are cooking on top of the fireplace and living off toast, eggs, spaghetti and pancakes - something Emmet and his sister Alexandra, 11, said was the best part of having no power.

Unison Networks are working to restore power to 200 rural customers and say more than 150 poles are down, broken or damaged.

The Grant family Ruby, Craig, Jade and Carly are generator-reliant until the lines are fixed. Photo / NZME
The Grant family Ruby, Craig, Jade and Carly are generator-reliant until the lines are fixed. Photo / NZME

Relationship manager Danny Gough said because of limited access to the biggest areas affected by the devastation, some customers may be without power for more than a week.

A team from Hawke's Bay Civil Defence emergency management group and the Hastings District Council spent yesterday in hill country north of Napier visiting farms to assess the situation and what assistance was required.

Emergency group controller Ian Macdonald said although there was a lot of snow around, people were coping well.

Metservice meteorologist Peter Little said the worst of the weather had passed for Hawke's Bay.

Although most closures have been lifted for roads around Hawke's Bay, the NZ Transport Agency was advising motorists to drive with caution.

Meanwhile, homes that did have power over the weekend were churning through it. An extra $4 million worth of power was switched on as the polar blast sent temperatures plummeting across the country.

Consumption around the country surged by 15 gigawatt-hours on Saturday and Sunday compared with the previous weekend, the biggest week-on-week increase of the year.

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