Belinda Feek is a NZ Herald reporter

'No way, we're not leaving here,' say Oaro's shaken-but-not-stirred Wildbore legends

Long-time Oaro residents Val and Ivan Wildbore, 93 and 83 respectively, say as long as they've got their watered-down Lion Brown or Ranfurly and cigarettes, they're happy as Larry. Photo / Mike Scott
Long-time Oaro residents Val and Ivan Wildbore, 93 and 83 respectively, say as long as they've got their watered-down Lion Brown or Ranfurly and cigarettes, they're happy as Larry. Photo / Mike Scott

Eighty-eight year old Ivan Wildbore is struggling.

The retired Oaro man admits he's always been a bit anxious but Monday morning's giant 7.8 quake has got him on edge.

However, 93-year-old wife, Val, is good as gold and says her husband is too stubborn.

As long as they've got their watered down Lion Brown or Ranfurly and cigarettes they're happy as Larry.

Ivan, known as Ike, says they put a bit of water in their beer because they don't like gas in it. They get a bit of a stick about it but they're okay with that.

Heading south from Kaikoura, Oaro is the last settlement along the winding State Highway 1 coast road until it veers inland and around and over the ranges.

Oaro rural fire officer Vern McAllister said they've been holding up fine despite SH1 being cut off at both ends. Since the quake, Kaikoura police touch base with him twice a day.

Patchwork repairs have also recently been made to the defunct road meaning locals can finally get to Cheviot for supplies.

His biggest issue now is keeping burglars and paua thieves out of town so they've set up a cordon at the intersection heading north, where tens of millions of paua have been left high and dry after the sea bed's estimated 1.8m rise from the earthquake.

Oaro has 50 houses, 10 of which are permanently occupied. All appear to be structurally safe, he said.

He says the Wildbores are legends of the town and have also lived there the longest, as Ivan first built their cosy family home back in 1957.

SH1 toward Kaikoura from the south is a wild ride over cracked seal and gaping holes. While it is blocked before Kaikoura, it is still a lifeline to towns like Oaro. Photo /  Mike Scott
SH1 toward Kaikoura from the south is a wild ride over cracked seal and gaping holes. While it is blocked before Kaikoura, it is still a lifeline to towns like Oaro. Photo / Mike Scott

While the quake shook them, Val says they have no intention of leaving.

They've been overwhelmed with the support they've received from residents in surrounding towns, including Cheviot.

They've received so many food and water parcels, Ivan says he can't take a shower because it's filled with bottles, while Val has all her baking tins filled with treats.

"The support we've had has been huge, it's unbelievable, just unbelievable."

As for the quake, Val's eyes light up in horror describing how violent it was.

"It was so jerky and violent. The hubby got down on the side of the bed and had a cry. He thought the house was going to collapse."

She's amazed at what was left standing when they returned home. The chimney was ripped about 10cm away from the side of the house, but the paintings painted by her daughter were still hanging in the lounge. A lot of their ornaments survived and all of their appliances remained standing.

They've still got their massive terraced veggie garden, which also features a couple of eels and their regular sparrow visitors continue to dance at the kitchen window, like performing puppets.

Despite the stress of the quake, neither they, or anyone else in the town, is going to leave.

"This is the most marvellous community," Val said. "The (Christchurch-based) family have offered to come and get us and we said no way, we're not leaving here."

The end of the line. The first tunnel on SH1 toward Kaikoura is currently the farthest point north keen motorist can reach. Photo / Mike Scott
The end of the line. The first tunnel on SH1 toward Kaikoura is currently the farthest point north keen motorist can reach. Photo / Mike Scott

- NZ Herald

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